After the cobbled classics finished at Paris-Roubaix, the peloton switch their attention to the punchy hills of the Ardennes. Join The Roar for live coverage of both the men’s and women’s Amstel Gold Race from 9:30pm (AEST).
Usually the finale to Amstel Gold is on the Cauberg Hill, followed by a bunch sprint a further kilometre up the road. This year, the organisers have decided to go a different route, with the race finishing on the flat roads in Berg en Terblijt.
Race director Leo van Vliet explained the decision.
“By removing the last climb of the Cauberg we hope for a more open race, where there will be more contenders and the attackers get more chances. It’s not the organisers, but the riders and the teams that make the race. It is obvious that the Cauberg, which will now lie approximately 19kilometres from the finish, will be less decisive.” he said.
The 19 kilometres after the Cauberg still have two difficult climbs, with both the Geulhemmberg and the Bemelerberg, however the finsh comes from a fast descent off the Bemeleberg inside the final ten kilometres.
The removal of the Cauberg forces the punchy riders to make their moves earlier in the race, instead of traditionally waiting for the final climb.
Even with the slight change of route, the course of is over 260 kilometres with 35 hills to be completed.
If it comes to a sprint finish, the favourites are Michael Matthews and Greg Van Avermaet, with both Alejandro Valverde and this year’s Tour of Flanders winner, Phillipe Gilbert the main suspects who will look to get away over the hills.
Other riders in contention include 2016 champion Enrico Gasparotto, Sonny Colbrelli, Michal Kwiatkowski, Sergio Henao, Daniel Martin, Simon Gerrans, Michael Albasini, Roman Kreuziger, Tim Wellens, Enrico Battaglin, Juan Jose Lobato, Jay McCarthy, Fabio Felline, Rui Costa, Diego Ulissi, Ben Swift, Simon Clarke, Tom-Jelte Slagter, Nathan Haas and Bryan Coqurd.
The women also tackle the course before the men, with the final part of the race being televised. This is the fourth edition of the women’s Amstel, with the race having a long hiatus off the calendar since its last edition back in 2003.
The women will not tackle the new finish, and will stick to the previous men’s finishing route, with the Cauberg and then a short kilometre long uphill drag to the finish. The race will cover 121 kilometres, with 17 climbs on the menu.
After winning the Tour of Flanders two weeks ago, American Coryn Rivera will be one of the favourites, with the punchy sprinter in scintillating form this season. Also in contention will be Marianne Vos, who took the win on the same finale in the 2012 World Championships.
Other riders to look out for in the women’s event include Elisa Longo Borghini, Annemiek van Vleuten, Elena Cecchini, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, Lizzie Deignan, Anna van der Breggen, Chantal Blaak and Megan Guarnier
Join The Roar‘s live coverage of the Amstel Gold Race from 9:30pm (AEST)