Mathieu van der Poel will ride the Amstel Gold Race in April after his Corendon-Circus team was given a wildcard spot in the race. Van der Poel had already spoken of his intentions to ride the Dutch race.
The 24-year-old Dutch rider is fresh off the back of an excellent start to the season after winning the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championship title last week.
Corendon-Circus are one of seven teams that have been given wildcards for the race in Limburg, Netherlands, on April 21. The team has already been awarded a number of wildcards for the spring, including Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Gent-Wevelgem. Van der Poel will ride the latter.
The race will also welcome Israel Cycling Academy, Roompot-Charles, Bardiani CSF, Wanty-Groupe Gobert, Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise and Vital Concept-B&B Hotels.
The race is often won by a strong rider in the mould of Van der Poel, with Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) having claimed victory four times since 2010.
The number of wildcard teams this year has increased to seven compared with just five in 2018. Notably, regular wildcard outfits Cofidis and Direct Energie have both missed out on the race, which was won by Michael Valgren (Astana) last year.
Wellens out of Étoile de Bessèges with illness
With the race due to start on Thursday, Lotto Soudal confirmed that they will not replace Wellens in the line-up and will continue the five-day stage race in France with six riders, adding that they hope Wellens recovers soon.
Wellens is next scheduled to ride at the Ruta del Sol, which starts on February 20, before the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Wellens has said that the Belgian race will be his first main goal of the season.
“The important goals start with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. I want to arrive at the start of the Omloop in as good a shape as possible,” Wellens told Sporza. "I rode that course for the first time last year, and I thought it was a nice race.
“A week later, Paris-Nice starts, where I also want to be good. If I try to get in top shape for then, I'll be in good shape the week before, which is why I'll ride the Omloop. After a break, the Walloon Classics then start, which are the most beautiful races of the year. I'll try to be in my very best form for the start of those."
Terpstra given chance to go for third Dwars door Vlaanderen title
Niki Terpstra and Mathieu van der Poel will be on the start line at Dwars door Vlaanderen after their respective teams, Direct Energie and Correndon-Circus, were both granted wildcards for this year’s race.
The other teams invited, on top of the 18 WorldTour squads, are Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise, Wanty-Groupe Gobert, Cofidis, Israel Cycling Academy and Vital Concept-B&B Hotels.
Terpstra is a veteran of the race, having won it twice, in 2012 and 2014, and finished in the top 10 a further two times, including a ninth place in last year’s race. He is among 13 riders who have won the race on two separate occasions.
Belgian riders have won the race in the past four years, with Yves Lampaert taking victory in the last two, along with Jens Debusschere and Jelle Wallays.
Dwars door Vlaanderen takes place on Wednesday, March 3, ahead of the Tour of Flanders that weekend.
Confusion after UCI release one-day and stage-race rankings
Rider rankings were among the changes the UCI announced with regards to men’s professional road cycling in December. The changes will be partially introduced in 2019 before a full roll-out in 2020.
However, Van Avermaet, who currently leads the one-day ranking, explained how he is unaware what these rankings mean and why they have come into use.
"It's quite complicated, isn't it?” Van Avermaet told the Belgian press ahead of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. “I don’t even know the one-day race ranking. Is something attached to it? Is it a kind of World Cup?”
The Belgian said that in order for the concept to work, something needs to be awarded to the winner.
"I think you should attach a jersey to it. In cyclo-cross, the leader in the World Cup gets a jersey. I can still see Johan Museeuw cycling around with that white World Cup jersey. I was envious of that as a youngster,” Van Avermaet said.
"If you have a jersey, you can connect a sponsor to it. And if you have a sponsor, it's possible to offer a cash prize. Then there would really be a fight for the leading position. As it is, I'm not going to race especially for that classification.”