South African road race and time trial champion Daryl Impey will lead the Australian Mitchelton-Scott WorldTour team at the Amstel Gold Race in the Netherlands on Sunday, hoping that he can add to the team's already impressive haul of 17 victories so far this season.
In 2019, only Deceuninck-QuickStep – with 24 wins – and Astana (22) have won in 2019 more often than Mitchelton, who currently share a win-tally with Bora-Hansgrohe.
Impey – who successfully defended his national titles in February on the back of retaining his Tour Down Under crown in Australia in January – enjoyed a break from racing between finishing the Volta a Catalunya in late March and Wednesday's Brabantse Pijl, and is now raring to go for the hilly Dutch one-day race.
"I've changed things around a bit this year, and I am trying a different approach by going to altitude before the Ardennes," he revealed on his team's website. "The hard work is done and now it's time to see how it all works out.
"I have confidence in myself and the team that we can do well here. No doubt, Amstel is the more realistic of the three Ardennes races for me to win, and it's a race that I enjoy, and one that suits my characteristics quite well," Impey said of a race where his best finish is his 11th plave pf last year, when it was won by Michael Valgren.
"We have a very solid team, mixed with experience and youth. Everyone seems to be going very well and that gives everyone a lift. It's great to see that everyone's motivated," he said.
Although Mitchelton-Scott have yet to win Amstel Gold, the team points out that it's had a rider on the podium at five of the past six editions of the race, with the now-retired Simon Gerrans having taken third in 2014, Michael Matthews (who's now at Sunweb) taking third in 2015, third again for Michael Albasini in 2017 and second for Roman Kreuziger behind Valgren last year.
While Kreuziger has moved on to pastures new to link up with former rival Valgren at Dimension Data, Albasini will line up as part of the Mitchelton's seven-man squad again this year.
"I think we have good cards to play," head sports director Matt White said. "The tricky thing about Amstel is making the breakaway. It's a real tactical race, which used to be almost a guaranteed reduced-group sprint over the Cauberg, but since they changed the course, it just forces the race to play out differently.
"It could still be a sprint, but there are not really enough sprint teams that have numbers to neutralise any breakaways, so the general trend the last couple of years has been a real aggressive last hour, and once the right combination of teams go, it's very, very hard to shut it down.
"We've been on the podium in this race with four different riders over the years, so it has been a good hunting ground for us," White said. "We've got riders that are good on that type of terrain, and we expect to be in the mix."
Mitchelton-Scott for the 2019 Amstel Gold Race: Michael Albasini, Michael Hepburn, Daryl Impey, Chris Juul-Jensen, Dion Smith, Nick Schultz, Matteo Trentin
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