Everything you need to know about the 2019 Amstel Gold Race
The cobbled classics are done and it’s time now for the Ardennes Classics, starting with the 54th Amstel Gold Race this Sunday April 21
The race is hotly contested, being the first of the three Ardennes, before La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Named after the Amstel beer brand and brewery, the rcae is held in the southern region of the Netherlands is widely recongnized as flat, but certainly isn't. Bodering Belgium to the west and Germany to the east, the Limburg region has plenty of hills perfect for one day classics racing.
Both the women's and men's race are held on the day at the same time, although the women's race finishes first.
The men’s race is 258km long and features four laps, it no longer finishes at the top of the Cauberg in Valkenburg.
Starting in Maastricht, the riders take on three big laps through the Southern Limburg hills, including three climbs of the Cauberg and three passages of the finishline in Vilt-Valkenburg. Only the climbs of the Geulhemmerberg and the Bemelerberg are included in the final lap. So the Cauberg will be avoided in the last kilometers again
In the final lap of 16 kilometers, the Amstel Gold Race searched for more narrow roads to make it harder to control the race by a peloton bunch. After the climb of the Geulhemmerberg those in contention, will descend the Kuitenbergweg. Once the riders are down the descent, the riders will ride via the Molenweg and the Peutgensweg to cross the Rasberg towards Bemelen. After the climb of the Bemelerberg the riders will not cycle past the famous windmill of Wolfshuis, but turn left into the village of Gasthuis towards Terblijt. In Terblijt the route continues via the Rijnsbergerweg to end up at the Sibberweg again for the final kilometre.
The changes in the final lap will force the contenders to find a good position before they enter the finale or already have already attacked.
The Amstel Gold Race starts on Sunday, April 21st at 10h30 am local time (CET) at the ‘Vrijthof’ in Maastricht and finishes around 17h 13 local time (12:13 EST) in Vilt-Valkenburg.
The 2019 Amstel Gold Race covers 258km and contains 35 climbs.
Recent winners include Michael Valgren Andersen (2018), several times Philippe Gilbert (2017, 2014,2011,2010), Enrico Gasparotto (2016), Roman Kreuziger (2013), Michal Kwiatkowski (2015).
Interestingly, Valgren, Kreuziger and Kwiatkowski are all racing for Dimension Data this year.
Mathieu van der Poel who won Brabantse Pijl this week and Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe who won Milan San remo are the top favorites for this type of distance, terrain and more difficult finish that will likely see a small group with plenty of attacks.
Other contenders are previous winner Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky), Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC), Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), previous winner Michael Valgren (Dimension Data), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck QuickStep) and of course Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).
Other notables who cause some upset are Michael Matthews (Sunweb), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott).
Expect some big attacks as the race enters the final few laps as the remaining bunch is whittled down and the strongest contenders force a split and go on the attack.
Weather forecast is 22ºC, no rain and no wind, perfect for bike racing!
2018 Amstel Gold Race Top 10
1 Michael Valgren (Den) Astana Pro Team
2 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott
3 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
6 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
7 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors
8 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
9 Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
10 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal