Strong performance from our team at Amstel Gold Race

Teamwork on display for EF Education-Easypost and EF Education-Cannondale at the Ardennes opener

April 14, 2024

The Ardennes classics kicked off today at the Amstel Gold Race for our men’s and women’s teams with two thrilling races in the South Limburg region of the Netherlands.

As our riders set out from Maastricht, they were welcomed by the region’s biggest party, with throngs of enthusiastic fans lining every inch of the climbs to cheer them on.

Women’s race

An accident on course ahead forced the organizers to neutralize the women’s race after 45 kilometers of racing. After over an hour of stoppage, the race resumed on a shortened and altered route.

The EF Education-Cannondale squad raced hard, with Clara Emond and Magdeleine Valliers launching attacks on the finishing circuit.

“It was a tough race,” said Magdeleine. “We raced super well until the race was neutralized. It was hard to reset when you hear that someone got badly injured. After the restart it felt like a kermesse – super short with a lot of hills. It made the race really hard. ”

As the bell rang, signifying the final lap, it was still anyone's race. Our riders raced hard in the peloton just narrowly missing out on the decisive move up the Cauberg. Clara Emond was the first to cross the line for the squad, crossing the line in the lead chase group.

“The fans were so loud on the Cauberg,” said Magdeleine. “It gives you extra motivation because your legs are hurting a lot but at least you can hear the people. I even got to hear my name a few times in the crowd.”

Men's race

After a fairly uneventful start in the men’s race, fireworks truly started to go off with 60 kilometers to go in the race. After a series of attacks in the peloton, Mikkel Honoré found himself off the front in a strong group of three riders.

“It was a tough race,” said the Dane. “It was good to be back, racing at the front again after a couple weeks off because of injury at home after Tirreno. It was an amazing race. It always is. I love this race. It is one of the best of the season, I think. We tried to make it a hard race and anticipate, by attacking the first time up the Cauberg. I got away with two other guys and then it was just full on racing from there to make a big selection.”

The squad behind worked brilliantly together with James Shaw, Owain Doull and Lukas Nerurkar guiding our race favorites – Ben Healy, Marijn van den Berg and Richard Carapaz – perfectly around the small roads that surround Valkenburg.

As the race whittled down in the peloton, the trio worked well together in front and they would soon be joined by an elite group after the Eyserbosweg with 40 kilometers to go. Mikkel put on a strong ride but couldn’t follow the pace on the Cauberg with just under 20 kilometers to go.

“It was a hard attritional day,” said Ben Healy. “We played the pre-final pretty perfectly, putting Mikkel up there, with the hope that in the end either Richard or I would have the legs to jump across to him, but unfortunately, it wasn’t the best day for either of us, I don’t think, but we had Marijn still going strong, so we did what we could to pull the front back and deliver Marijn for the sprint.”

Ben, Richard, and Mikkel mounted a strong chase to try and bridge to the lead group in an effort to place an in-form Marijn for the sprint but it wasn’t to be today.

“It was really special to see the boys ride for me in the finale of the Amstel Gold Race,” said our Dutch rider Marijn van den Berg who was making his debut at his home race. “ I felt good, so we discussed it and made the decision together. It was really something to see our team leaders line up and go all in riding for me.It was very special to race in front of all of the Dutch fans.”

Our team heads to Belgium for the next leg of the Ardennes this week for La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. There are still plenty of cards to play for our squads.

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