Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition will begin the triple Ardennes Classic series on April 10 in the Netherlands. The iconic Cauberg, cheering fans, €40,000 equal prize purse, and the winner's glory will set the stage for an exciting start to what has traditionally been the closing week of the spring classics calendar.
The Ardennes Classics, which normally take place within the space of one week, will be stretched out across two weeks with the mid-week La Flèche Wallonne held on April 20 and Liège-Bastogne-Liège held on April 24, both in Belgium.
"I'm really looking forward to [Amstel Gold Race], all those people on the [road] side provide so many goosebumps, especially when you race up the iconic Cauberg," says SD Worx leader and one of the Dutch favourites, Demi Vollering.
Indeed, the Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition returns to a traditional route after the race was cancelled in 2020 and reduced to short circuits in 2021 due to COVID-19 health restrictions in the Netherlands.
This year, the parcours will begin in Maastricht and finish in Berg en Terblijt. At 128.5km, Amstel Gold Race is also a much shorter race than the previous one-day races on the Women's WorldTour this spring that have been hitting 160km, which might lead to an aggressive race from start to finish.
It will be no easy feat as the women will tackle 19 ascents in total across the 128.5km, and when they reach the first ascent of the Cauberg, an 800-metre ascent reaching 12.8 per cent in gradient, they then enter the final three finishing circuits of 17.9km each.
Those local circuits include combination of the Geulhemmerberg, Bemelerberg and Cauberg climbs, which are done three times as well. From the top of the last climb over the Cauberg, there are only 1.6 kilometres to the finish line in Berg en Terblijt located in the municipality of Valkenburg.
Who can rival the Dutch at home Amstel Gold Race?
The Dutch riders have dominated their home event winning five of the seven held editions. The Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition was introduced to the Ardennes Classics for women in 2001 won by Debby Mansveld. Current race director, Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel, won the race in 2002 and Great Britain's Nicole Cooke won in 2003.
After a 14-year hiatus, Anna van der Breggen won when the race returned in 2017, followed her Dutch compatriot Chantal van de Broek-Blaak in 2018. Poland's Kasia Niewiadoma stormed to the victory in 2019 and Marianne Vos won the last year's edition.
Defending champion Marianne Vos is not yet confirmed to start the race and she has only recently returned to competition at the Tour of Flanders after being ill. Jumbo-Visma also have riders like Anna Henderson for the breakaways and Coryn Labecki for a potential sprint following the punchy climbs.
Former champion Kasia Niewiadoma returns as a strong card to play for Canyon-SRAM, but watch out for surprise performances from teammates Elise Chabbey and Soraya Paladin who are on the verge of a big victory this season.
Annemiek van Vleuten has stood on the podium in the last two editions but she has never won her home race. Perhaps this could be the year for the Movistar rider to claim that special win. The team also have Arlenis Sierra, who's strong fourth place at the Tour of Flanders shows that she is in top shape, too.
SD Worx have several riders in their roster capable of winning, and their superb team tactics make them the team to beat - watch for Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, whose late-race support helped net Lotte Kopecky the Tour of Flanders win, also Demi Vollering, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Blanka Vas.
Mavi Garcia returns to racing after taking a break following Trofeo Alfredo Binda, and the route will suit a punchy rider like her, who is also willing to take a risk. The same can be said for Marta Cavalli of FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope and Amanda Spratt of BikeExchange.
Trek-Segafredo will be without Elisa Longo Borghini, who has been suffering from a sinus infection, but the do have road world champion Elisa Balsamo who's winning streak recently came to an end at the Tour of Flanders after she had won Brugge-De Panne, Trofeo Alfredo Binda and Gent-Wevelgem. A late-race attack from time trial world champion Ellen van Dijk, who is enjoying impeccable form right now, could see her become the next Dutch rider to claim a home victory.
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.
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