Josef Cerny made his presence known in the UCI World Tour event, Amstel Gold Race, by riding in the breakaway for nearly 200 kilometers.
The 258-kilometer route from Maastricht to Velkenburg was filled with 34 short, but steep hills. Keutenberg, Eyserbosweg and Cauberg, which in total was tackled 4 times, were on the menu, among others. Narrow and twisty roads of the Netherlands, with numerous roundabouts were also something to keep in mind, when preparing the strategy for the race. The finish was located 1,8km after the top of the last climb of the day, Cauberg, with the final straight going just a little bit uphill.
Josef Cerny was part of the 11-man breakaway which broke clear early on. He was pedaling in the front alongside Giacomo Berlato (Nippo – Vini Fantini), Matteo Bono (Lampre – Merida), Laurens De Vreese (Astana), Tom Devriendt (Wanty – Groupe Gobert), Laurent Didier (Trek – Segafredo), Fabien Grellier (Direct Energie), Alex Howes (Cannondale Pro Cycling Team), Matteo Montaguti (AG2R La Mondiale), Kevin Reza (FDJ) and Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling).
They established a 5-minute advantage which was controlled by the Team Sky-led peloton. Despite the long distance, the bunch didn’t let the escapees gain too much space and brought the gap to 3 minutes early in the race.
It’s started to rain heavily in the final 60 kilometers of racing. With 45 kilometers to go Grellier pushed the pace on the climb and Cerny was unable to follow. Czech got dropped, rode for few minutes with the 4-man chasing group, but eventually sat up and got reeled in.
Other attackers got caught as well and the strong tempo in the bunch caused a drastic selection. CCC Sprandi Polkowice didn’t survive it and lost contact with the main contenders.
Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) tried a late attack, but his move was neutralized on Cauberg. Soon after Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty-Goubert) pulled away and only Michael Valgren (Tinkoff) had enough in his tank to follow. The duo arrived at the line together and the sprint between the two of them decided who will be the winner of Amstel Gold Race.
More experienced Gasparotto played it perfectly and outsprinted his rival. The Dane finished 2nd, while Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) won the battle for the last remaining podium spot.
Davide Rebellin was the first “rider in orange” to check in in Valkenburg, as he claimed 80th place.