A REASON FOR OPTIMISM BEFORE THE ARDENNES

Amstel Gold Race 2021 – 55th Edition – Valkenburg – Berg en Terblijt 218,6 km – 18/04/2021 – Scenery – photo Nico Vereecken/PN/BettiniPhoto©2021

“Sometimes you do almost everything well, but then you finish the race and in the score sheet, there is nothing to indicate that. When that happens, you have to accept it, appreciate your riders, and move onto the next race with a lot of optimism.”

Those words from Eric Van Lancker, our Belgian sports director, came right after the finish of AMSTEL GOLD. He is known as a guy that speaks his mind and doesn’t mince words. So, based on that, there is no doubt that the team functioned as well as it could. 

Amstel Gold Race 2021 – 55th Edition – Valkenburg – Berg en Terblijt 218,6 km – 18/04/2021 – Krists Neilands (LAT – Israel Start-Up Nation) – photo Dion Kerckhoffs/CV/BettiniPhoto©2021

Well, almost. We planned to have our two top riders, Daryl Impey and Mike Woods, in the front when the race would come to the critical point; just when the breakaway was caught about 40 km to the finish. 

A series of attacks followed, and the peloton was shattered, but when the smoke cleared, we had our top guys, PLUS the in-shape Latvian Krists Neilands to help.

Amstel Gold Race 2021 – 55th Edition – Valkenburg – Berg en Terblijt 218,6 km – 18/04/2021 – Israel Start-Up Nation – photo Nico Vereecken/PN/BettiniPhoto©2021

And he did just that when a trio of strong riders, headed by favorite Wout van Aert escaped. Krists promptly went to the front and worked hard to close it, soon to be aided by Mike Woods. The trouble was that the 15- to 20-second gap did not evaporate. “Our guys did everything,” said Eric. “The problem was that we could not get enough help.”

Amstel Gold Race 2021 – 55th Edition – Valkenburg – Berg en Terblijt 218,6 km – 18/04/2021 – Stefano Oldani (ITA – Lotto Soudal) – photo Nico Vereecken/PN/BettiniPhoto©2021

Eventually, the trio was able to sweep the podium, just a few seconds beyond our chasing group (van Aert took the win).

“The guys did all we asked for,” summarized Van Lancker. “We will move to the Ardennes classics with confidence.”

Amstel Gold Race 2021 – 55th Edition – Valkenburg – Berg en Terblijt 218,6 km – 18/04/2021 – Krists Neilands (LAT – Israel Start-Up Nation) – photo Dion Kerckhoffs/CV/BettiniPhoto©2021

Krists Neilands: 

“I think we did a super good race today. We didn’t get the result we were looking for, but how we raced today was terrific, we showed that the other teams can pay attention to us.”

 

Amstel Gold Race 2021 – 55th Edition – Valkenburg – Berg en Terblijt 218,6 km – 18/04/2021 – Hugo Hofstetter (FRA – Israel Start-Up Nation) – photo Dion Kerckhoffs/CV/BettiniPhoto©2021
Amstel Gold Race 2021 – 55th Edition – Valkenburg – Berg en Terblijt 218,6 km – 18/04/2021 – Michael Woods (NZL – Israel Start-Up Nation) – photo Dion Kerckhoffs/CV/BettiniPhoto©2021
Amstel Gold Race 2021 – 55th Edition – Valkenburg – Berg en Terblijt 218,6 km – 18/04/2021 – Jenthe Biermans (BEL – Israel Start-Up Nation) – photo Dion Kerckhoffs/CV/BettiniPhoto©2021
Amstel Gold Race 2021 – 55th Edition – Valkenburg – Berg en Terblijt 218,6 km – 18/04/2021 – Sam Oomen (NED – Jumbo – Visma) – photo Nico Vereecken/PN/BettiniPhoto©2021

— Tsadok to israelcyclingacademy.com