A look at the Amstel race map suggests it has a touch of the Tour of Flanders about it as it twists and turns in labyrinthine fashion. But with a staggering 32 climbs, ranging between 500 metres and 4.3km in length, and all manner of Dutch road furniture to deal with, it is a very different kind of test to Flanders. Most of those climbs, which average up to 9% but are generally around 5-6%, are packed into the second half of the race, when the peloton is steadily whittled down.
Between 2003 and 2012, the finish was located at the top of the Cauberg, favouring puncheurs of the ilk of Philippe Gilbert. However, since then Amstel has followed the example of Valkenburg's 2012 World Championships by moving the line 1.8km beyond the crest of this hill. This move hasn't fazed Gilbert, who not only won that 2012 world title but also claimed a third Amstel success last year after powering clear of his rivals on the Cauberg and holding off their attempts to get back on terms over the 1800-metre finishing straight.
Former winners Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo), Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty Groupe Gobert), Damiano Cunego (Nippo Vini Fantini), Fränk Schleck (Trek) and CCC Sprandi duo Davide Rebellin and Stefan Schumacher will also line up.