Van der Breggen: I'm in perfect shape for the Ardennes Week

Lizzie Deignan and Anna van der Breggen will shoulder the hopes of the Boels Dolmans team at Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race. The squad has named a prolific squad for their home race with Chantal Blaak and Megan Guarnier also set to start, while Amy Pieters and Karol-Ann Canuel complete the line-up.

Boels Dolmans are hunting for their second WorldTour win of this season after Amalie Dideriksen won the Ronde van Drenthe in March. Deignan and Van der Breggen are still searching for their first individual wins in 2017. Deignan has competed over just three race days so far this season with third at Strade Bianche her best result yet.

Olympic champion Van der Breggen, who has twice won Fleche Wallonne, had a difficult start to the year after falling ill just before her season debut. She has been working her way back into form and a consistent performance at the Healthy Ageing Tour last week, with second in the individual time trial, first in the team time trial, led to second overall behind Ellen van Dijk. Having missed several days of the Classics calendar, Van der Breggen says she may well be fresher than some of her rivals, and the necessary form has arrived just in time.

“Compared to most other riders in the peloton, I have raced less, so I'm not so tired. I'm in perfect shape at the moment and look forward to the coming week,” she said. “It's an important week for sure - for me personally too. There are two new Women's WorldTour races on the program this week, in which big prizes can be won.”

“We can win by doing what we always do. We make a plan and execute it as a team. It’s what we do best. We bring a good line-up to the Amstel Gold Race. If everyone is at their peak shape on Sunday, and if we keep thinking about the team effort, then the victory is in reach."

Guarnier’s form going into the race on Sunday will be an unknown for the team after she too has battled with illness and injury. She has been out of action since Strade Bianche, after suffering crashes at the Italian race and the earlier Omloop Het van Hageland that left her with a concussion. At her best, Guarnier is a strong option, however.

As a Dutch team with Dutch sponsors, the Amstel Gold Race is a big occasion for the Boels Dolmans team. Directeur sportif Danny Stam says that the team will approach the race the same as any other, despite the added pressure.

“We know the roads and have researched the route very well. Our main sponsors, Boels Rental and Dolmans Group, are both located within 80 kilometres of the Ardennes classics. This gives us a bit of extra motivation,” he said. “Although I cannot deny the pressure will be higher than normal, we won't do much different tactically. We will race aggressively because we like tough races the best.”

Boels Dolmans for Amstel Gold Race: Chantal Blaak, Karol-Ann Canuel, Lizzie Deignan, Megan Guarnier, Amy Pieters and Anna van der Breggen.

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