Canyon-SRAM were particularly active in the Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition, with five of the team’s six riders launching attacks at various points in the race. Most promising was a late move by Soraya Paladin who went away on the Bemelerberg with nine kilometres to go – but the move may just have prevented a bolder approach to the Cauberg by Katarzyna Niewiadoma.
“Having Soraya in the front made me hesitate on the final Cauberg as I didn’t want to close the gap by attacking, so I decided to stay in the wheels. Maybe my final was a bit too conservative,” Niewiadoma said after the race.
At the top of the climb with 2000 metres to go, Niewiadoma and Paladin were both part of a group of seven, but Paladin was hanging on by a thread and lost contact when eventual winner Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx) attacked.
Niewiadoma did not react to Vollering’s move immediately, and although she and Liane Lippert (Team DSM) tried to chase, the Dutchwoman was gone for good. Paladin returned in the final kilometre to sprint to fifth place, but Niewiadoma also missed the podium with fourth.
“I wonder if there are other cyclists who have as many fourth, fifth or sixth places as me, but instead, I’m concentrating on how good the team performance was today. I had teammates creating a hard race and stayed present in the front for practically the whole race,” the Polish rider said, seeing the positives from the day’s performance.
“It was cool to see us being aggressive and choosing the right moments to attack, like Soraya’s attack at the end. She did so well and was close to making it; I think she just needed 100 metres more to be at the point where the others hesitate and let her go,” Niewiadoma mused.
Paladin had started the Cauberg with a 10-second advantage and was caught about three quarters of the way up the climb. Only a few hundred metres later, Vollering attacked to win leaving Canyon-SRAM’s riders to think of what might have been.
“It’s hard to know how to feel. I’m sad and happy at the same time,” said Paladin. “We deserved a podium with the way our team raced. It’s sad we didn’t get it, but I’m happy that we made a difference in the race.”
She had been part of an early break that went away with 107 km to go and lasted for almost 30 kilometres before attacking several times in the final.
“I used some energy by going in the breakaway, but I enjoyed it and was happy to be active,” Paladin said. “I liked the Bemelerberg climb, and on the final lap, I saw a few sprinters were still there, so I said to myself that you have nothing to lose. It was a hard effort, I only thought about going as deep as I could. I’m unhappy being so close to the podium and not on it. It’s one of my favourite races, and I dream of celebrating with the podium beer.”