Michal Kwiatkowski wins 50th edition of Amstel Gold Race

Michal Kwiatkowski
Kwiatkowski was part of the Omega Pharma-Quick-Step World Team Time Trial winning team in 2013

World champion Michal Kwiatkowski won a sprint to the line in the 50th edition of the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday.

The Polish rider, 24, caught defending champion Philippe Gilbert, of Belgium, and Australian Michael Matthews to win the first of three Ardennes Classics.

Alejandro Valverde of Spain was second and Matthews third in the Netherlands.

"Winning in the (world champion's) rainbow jersey is such an amazing feeling," Etixx-Quick Step rider Kwiatkowski told Dutch broadcaster NOS.

"I was really suffering on the last lap," the 2014 UCI Road World Championships winner added.

Gilbert, seeking his fourth title in the Dutch spring classic, crossed the line in 10th place.

He broke away on the final climb of the Cauberg - a 1200m climb with a maximum gradient of 12% - before the finish and was followed by Matthews.

But neither man could shake off the peloton and they were caught on the final sprint as Kwiatkowski powered past them to win the 258km race, which includes 34 hill climbs.

The Amstel Gold Race is the only exclusively Dutch race on the World Tour.external-link

The riders return for La Fleche Wallonne, in Belgium, on Wednesday and finish with Liege-Bastogne-Liege next Sunday.

Race result:

1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol/Etixx - Quick-Step), 6 hours, 31 minutes, 49 seconds

2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) same time

3. Michael Matthews (Aus/Orica GreenEdge)

4. Rui Costa (Por/Lampre-Merida)

5. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel/BMC Racing)

6. Tony Gallopin (Fra/Lotto Soudal)

7. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Etixx - QuickStep)

8. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita/Wanty-Groupe Gobert)

9. Maciej Paterski (Pol/CCC Sprandi Katowice)

10. Philippe Gilbert (Bel/BMC Racing)