Vos posted up ahead of the finish and had a brief apprehensive look over at Demi Vollering (SD-Worx) who flashed home for second and looked like she may have avenged her own premature celebration from earlier in the week at Brabantse Pijl. However, it was Vos who was the winner by half a bike length on the line, continuing to add to the impressive palmares of one of the living legends of the sport.
"The race was breathtaking, totally," said Vos. "I was in the red the whole last lap after a few attacks. Grace Brown had a good opportunity and then the two on the final time on the Cauberg. When there's the final sprint, you have a little bit of energy left for the final few hundred metres."
Vos managed a full salute, but recent incidents of likely race winners celebrating too early and being beaten on the line saw a few hearts in mouths as Vollering was a fast-finishing second just behind Vos.
"Demi came really close," said Vos, "it was a little bit of an advantage but quite close."
Vos hadn't won the Amstel Gold Race in amongst her 233 UCI wins across her career, but did taste success on the Cauberg back in 2012 when the world championships finished on the same well-known ascent.
"It brings back memories... it's great to be back and even better with a victory," concluded Vos.
Earlier in the race it was a series of attacks and counterattacks that saw the peloton thinned down significantly on the narrow Dutch roads of the Limburg region as the classics stars and climbers saw their chance to make an impact on the racing.
Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange) had been active all day, but the Australian saved her biggest attack for last, jumping away with Pauline Rooijakers (SD-Worx) in a flurry of action with 25 kilometres to go. The pair worked well together, pushing out their lead steadily and heading through the finish to the final circuit with 20 seconds advantage on the chasing main bunch.
Brown then dropped Rooijakers on the descent from the Geulhemmerberg and was off on her lonesome in pursuit of the victory. Signs looked good initially as the Victorian stretched out her lead to 27 seconds, but as SD-Worx learnt that Rooijakers had been dropped, they committed to the chase and the peloton had Brown within sight as the final ascent of the Cauberg loomed.
Brown was passed by an attack from Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) with riders fighting to stay on her wheel until Niewiadoma took over midway up the famous climb and surged clear. UCI Women's WorldTour leader Longo Borghini managed to catch Niewiadoma by the top of the climb with 1.5 kilometres of flat left to the finish.
Longo Borghni sat on Niewiadoma's wheel steadfastly refusing to do work to help the pair stay away despite the chasers forming behind and none of her Trek-Segafredo teammates being present. With Niewiadoma yelling at her to help, Longo Borghini stayed back even as the Polish rider swung back and forth across the road.
Eventually, the pair were caught with just under 400 metres to go, Longo Borghini launched her sprint seconds after being caught but Vos followed the surge then jumped away with her own acceleration. She looked to have the race comfortably won, but Vollering came late with a surge that may have made Vos' heart skip a beat.
Amanda Spratt (BikeExchange) was just off the podium in fourth, the top Australian finish in a race where she has been third in the past.