April 17, 2016

VALKENBURG, Netherlands (AP) Italian rider Enrico Gasparotto easily won a two-man sprint Sunday to claim a first win in four years and a second victory in the Amstel Gold Race.

The 34-year-old Italian had not tasted victory since his previous title in the spring classic back in 2012.

Gasparotto's win was the first this season for the Team Wanty-Gobert, which last month mourned the death of Belgian rider Antoine Demoitie after a fall during the Gent-Wevelgem.

Gasparotto, who said he was disappointed he didn't win for Demoitie after finishing second at Brabantse Pijl earlier in the week, raised his arms and pointed his fingers toward the sky as he crossed the finish line.

''This victory is for Antoine Demoitie,'' Gasparotto said.

As often in a race famous for its 34 short and sharp climbs, the Cauberg Hill - a 1.5 kilometer ascent at an average gradient of 5.8 percent - played a decisive role. After 2013 champion Roman Kreuziger made the first move, Belgian rider Tim Wellens counter-attacked shortly before the fourth and final climb on the Cauberg with eight kilometers left but was caught by Gasparotto and Danish rider Michael Valgren.

The duo worked together at the front to resist the peloton and Gasparotto came out of Valgren's slipstream about 150 meters from the finish. Having thwarted the pack's chase in the finale against a strong headwind, Valgren looked exhausted and hardly fought in the sprint.

Another Italian, Sonny Colbrelli, won the peloton's sprint to finish in third place.

Defending champion Michal Kwiatkowski entered the race as one of the favorites but was dropped in the penultimate ascent of the Cauberg.

The race was marred by Fabio Felline's spectacular crash in the neutral zone before the official start. Felline crashed head-first over his handlebars and fractured both the base of his skull and his nose according a statement from his Trek-Segafredo team.

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