Two weeks on from his Tour of Flanders triumph, Philippe Gilbert takes aim at the Ardennes Classics, beginning with the Amstel Gold Race. Gilbert will headline the Quick-Step Floors team at the Dutch race, along with Bob Jungels, Dan Martin and Paris-Roubaix second place finisher Zdenek Stybar.
One rider that will be missing is Julian Alaphilippe, who is recovering from a knee injury. Despite this, Quick-Step Floors holds some serious firepower, with Gianluca Brambilla, Dries Devenyns, Petr Vakoc and neo-pro Maximilian Schachmann rounding out the team.
Gilbert has been in the top 10 in seven of the last eight years, taking victory on three occasions. Last year was his first blip in some time after he was distanced in the final 30 kilometres, suffering from a back injury that would force him to skip Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He arrives at this year’s race with a strong run of form and brimming with confidence.
The 34-year-old has enjoyed a superb spring campaign thus far, with his fourth monument title at the Tour of Flanders, a win at the Three Days of De Panne and podium places at Dwars door Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke. Following his Flanders win, Gilbert had the option of riding Paris-Roubaix but decided to skip it in order to rest for the Ardennes races. Gilbert returned to action at Brabantse Pijl earlier in the week, finishing 15th while defending champion Vakoc took second place.
This year’s Amstel Gold Race has seen the course revamped with the final ascent of the Cauberg removed and a much longer run to the line, with the Bemelerberg the last climb on Sunday. The changes in the parcours could see a much larger group make it to the finish, although Gilbert and Quick-Step Floors showed that they weren’t afraid to take things on from much further out at the Tour of Flanders.
Quick-Step Floors for the Amstel Gold Race: Gianluca Brambilla, Dries Devenyns, Philippe Gilbert, Bob Jungels, Daniel Martin, Maximilian Schachmann, Zdenek Stybar and Petr Vakoc.