Former Amstel Gold Race winner Roman Kreuziger will lead the Tinkoff team at the Dutch WorldTour race this weekend. Robert Kiserlovski and Michael Valgren will also take on protected status for the team. As expected Peter Sagan will not be in action, taking a break after his intense cobbled Classics campaign.
Often now employed as a support rider for Alberto Contador, Kreuziger will have a chance of team leadership at the the Amstel Gold Race. He finished 14th in last year’s race, coming home in the first bunch but losing out to the faster men in the bunch sprint. He won the Amstel Gold Race in 2013, finish alone, 22 seconds ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
“I don't know whether I will be able to repeat my victory but this is one of the big goals of the season, and I have prepared for it and hope to be ready. In addition, to be in good shape, you need to like these races to be successful. I consider them very nice, and I'm happy to have competed there so many times. I'm always focused when I hit the start line in such classics," Kreuziger said in an announcement from the Tinkoff team.
“In what regards the squad that will support me, in that race, we will be able to assess how Jay McCarthy performs after the training camp. Michael Valgren will do all three Ardennes classics, and Amstel Gold suits him the most. We will have to be smart on Sunday and do our best. Our competitors will go there with ambitions as well, and we will have to keep an eye on everybody."
Completing the Tinkoff line-up will be Jesper Hansen, McCarthy, Evgeny Petrov, Yuri Trofimov and Pavel Brutt.
Kreuziger won in 2013 after holding off the chasing pack during a lengthy solo attack launched 17 kilometres out. Kreuziger’s victory was the first with the new finish further away from the Cauberg. He believes that knowledge of the race route it key but that a repeat performance will be a big challenge.
“I could say that the Amstel Gold is one of the craziest classic races. It's never calm, it's always up and down, and the bunch is often very stretched. You need to get experience on that race, you need to ride year after year to learn how you can reach the finish with as much energy as possible.
“I have now raced it six times there, so I think I have acquired the required knowledge, I have the parcours engraved on my mind,” he said. “When I won in 2013, the finish had already changed, and I think that this new finish is a bit more difficult for a rider like myself because you have to be very fast. Nobody would go away alone or in two, but instead, you will have a group of 10-20 riders that then sprint for the victory.”
Tinkoff for the Amstel Gold Race: Roman Kreuziger, Robert Kiserlovski, Michael Valgren, Jesper Hansen, Jay McCarthy, Evgeny Petrov, Yuri Trofimov and Pavel Brutt.
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