Michal Kwiatkowski sups Amstel Gold

I’ve only drunk Amstel Gold once. I was travelling through Greece and stopped at a bar while waiting for a train one afternoon. The owner dissuaded me from buying normal Amstel and made a compelling mime for the superiority of Amstel Gold. I remember agreeing with him at the time, but see that the usually reliable ratebeer.com gives it 13 out of 100. Normal Amstel gets six though, so I guess it’s all relative.

World champion, Michal Kwiatkowski was the finest tipple at the Amstel Gold bike race this year. Unusually, it ended with a sprint. The normal course of events is for Philippe Gilbert to monster everyone on the final climb of the Cauberg and then stay ahead for the final few hundred metres.

That almost happened this year, but the impressively tenacious Michael ‘Stupid Objectionable Nickname’ Matthews managed to stay on his wheel. This mattered, because if he’d reached the top of the hill alone, Gilbert would doubtless have pressed on. As it was, he saw that the one person with him was a stronger sprinter and pretty much gave up.

Was he right to do this? Could he have stayed away from the dribs and drabs who caught up with them and who ultimately contested the sprint? If he could have done, maybe he should have done. Matthews was clearly diminished by his efforts to stay with Gilbert. Kwiatkowski, while quite a powerful rider, wouldn’t ordinarily expect to beat him, but he did.

By definition, the world champion’s always worth watching, but Kwiatkowski has a particularly decent record in the Ardennes Classics. Fifth in this race last year, he also came third in the other two. He might have an even better record by the end of the week.

What’s next?

La Fleche Wallonne with its Tour de France preview of the Mur de Huy on Wednesday and then Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday.