Canyon-SRAM announced their line-up at the Amstel Gold Race to include two potential winners in Kasia Niewiadoma and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot. The Polish rider says that focus will be the key to winning on Sunday.
"You have to fight with your own weaknesses from the start until the finish line," Niewiadoma said. "You need to be alert and attentive all the time. If you lose your focus, even for a few minutes, there is no place inside the race for you anymore."
Niewiadoma has targeted the three Ardennes Classics, which begin with Amstel Gold Race on Sunday and also include Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Last year she placed thid in all three events behind winner Anna van der Breggen and runner-up Lizzie Deignan.
She's will likely play the leading role for Canyon-SRAM at Amstel Gold Race given her top performances this season: second at Strade Bianche and a victory at Trofeo Alfredo Binda.
"I like Amstel Gold Race in particular because it reminds me of my first steps in professional cycling and I like to reflect about this adventure which brought me to the place where I am right now," said Niewiadoma, who joined the pro ranks with Rabobank and spent five season with versions of the team.
"To win any of these races you have to approach them with a lot of confidence, knowledge of the parcours, good shape and faith in your team. You can only win it with your team. No one wins the Ardennes races alone," Niewiadoma said.
Ferrand-Prévot shouldn't be discounted as she won Flèche in 2014 and was eighth at Amstel Gold last year. Canyon-SRAM's team for Amstel Gold Race will also include Alexis Ryan, Alena Amialiusik, Elena Cecchini and Trixi Worrack.
The race is roughly 120km and includes challenging finish circuits with climbs over Geulhemmerberg, Bemelerberg and Cauberg. Once at the top of Cauberg it is 1.7km to the finish.
"The Ardennes are races of attrition," Ryan said. "The terrain alone wears you down mentally and physically. Add aggressive racing to that mixture and no matter your placing you'll likely be smashed by the time you reach the finish line. Stamina and panache will win the Ardennes."