Leo van Vliet, director of the Amstel Gold Race, vehemently denied that the leading organized car had any influence on the result of Sunday’s largest classic car in the Netherlands.
Tadezh Bogar, the pre-race favorite after a devastatingly successful 2023 season so far, dominated affairs with a stunning singles win.
After launching several attacks, the Slovenian finally broke away with 29km to go, dropping the last two riders able to match him, Ben Healy of EF Education-Easypost and Tom Pidcock of Ineos Grenadiers.
The organization’s vehicle, with Van Vliet in it, passed Pogačar when he had a gap on Healy that was timed at 20 seconds with 10 kilometers to go. In the end, the gap between Pogačar and Healy was 38 seconds.
Television footage showed that the race director’s car remained close to Pogačar immediately after overtaking him, causing an uproar among some social media users, and some sarcastic comments from EF director Jonathan Vaughters.
“Good job race organizers #AGR23… (Derny) motorbike racing on the track is always the most exciting. So, I guess they’re bringing it to the road now,” Fogers wrote on Twitter.
However, Van Fleet angrily rejected claims that the time spent by the director’s car near Pogačar was in any way a kilometer long. He insisted that the race car had no choice but to spend a short amount of time in front of Pogačar for safety reasons.
He said, “We were leading behind Tadezh Bojjar and Ben Healy got close, so you have to go through.” advertisement Newspaper.
“This is not true at all [that the car was in front for a kilometre]. Look at the TV pictures. It didn’t help him. I also raced myself. I can’t imagine it [it offered an advantage].
“Why is it useful for me to do that?” He added, “We’ve been far enough ahead. There’s nothing wrong.”
Van Fleet noted that, as the race director, he knew the road was narrowing soon afterwards and that it would be dangerous to try to put more distance between him and Boggar at a faster pace.
He rejected the idea that he would rather have Pogačar as the winner than Healy.
“Let them say it,” he said. “I can’t do anything about it.”
Bogar and Vaughters have their say
Bogar himself was asked about the incident in the post-race press conference, and realized that the car was too close.
However, he noted that driving the main exit car before a breakaway was the type of maneuver that happens in all races, not just the Amstel Gold Race. He also supported Van Fleet’s claim that he had not been around for long.
“At one point they’re really close. I think it’s not nice, but they do it all the time, they’re up front, they pass, they come back. So it’s like that in racing,” Bogar said.
“I can’t do much, I can always ride as hard as I can, but I don’t think it was too long up front, too close.”
Foggers, writing on Twitter, admitted that even if Healy could regain contact with Bogar, he would likely lose the race. Five days ago, in Brabantse Pijl, that was exactly what happened when Dorian Godon (AG2R Citröen) easily overtook Healy after the two came to the finish together.
But the director of EF-EasyPost argued vigorously that there was still cause for complaint.
“I have to say something more productive and mature here: The problem is we see vehicles changing race results all the time. Sometimes in our favor, sometimes not. It just gets boring. Pog prob you would have won the sprint; not the point. It just discredits the race.”
This year the Amstel Gold Race organization brought in new photo-finishing equipment to try to resolve any potential disagreement for the third year in a row over who would decide the winner.
In 2021, in a double sprint between Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), Van Aert is finally declared the winner by a margin of millimeters and in 2022 Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R Citröen) gets the victory by mistake, only for it to finally go to Michal Kwiatkowski (Eneos Grenadiers).
I have to say something more productive and mature here: The problem is that we see vehicles changing race results all the time. Sometimes in our favor, sometimes not. It just gets tired. Pog prob would have won the sprint; no point. It’s just discrediting the race. https://t.co/QNAQKdsyJDApril 16, 2023
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