By Anthony Tan in Maastricht, Netherlands
The fifth major Spring Classic stop and the only race on the UCI ProTour calendar with its naming rights aligned to a beer company (not that there's anything wrong with that!), the Amstel Gold race is the Netherlands' most prized cycling event.
Compared to the Eindhoven team time trial and the Benelux Tour, the two other ProTour events based in Holland (with the latter also held in Belgium and Luxembourg) that are just two years old, 2006 will mark the 41st edition of 'the Amstel'. Still, with its inception in 1966, it is by some margin the youngest of the classics in spring.
The severity of the climbs may not be as harsh as Flanders, and the Amstel lacks the pavé of Roubaix, but this year's race, like recent editions before it, contains no less than 31 short climbs or 'bergs' spread across southern Limburg. Its finale is situated atop Valkenburg's famous one-in-seven Cauberg climb after 253.1 kilometres' racing - and that comes after two previous ascents.
Cyclingnews will be covering the 41st Amstel Gold Race live, beginning at 10:00 local time (CEST)/04:00 EDT (USA East)/01:00 PDT (USA West)/19:00 AEST (Australia East).