Julian Alaphilippe, Philippe Gilbert and Niki Terpstra are lining up for Quick-Step Floors on Sunday for Amstel Gold Race.
The 263km-long race starts from Maastricht, in the province of Limburg, and comes to a conclusion in Berg en Terblijt, taking the riders over a course which includes 35 short and punchy climbs, narrow and twisty roads and shifting winds which could very well spice up the day and wreak havoc long before the race hits its climax.
This year, the last part of the course has been again revamped by the organizers and could have a significant impact on the final. After avoiding the iconic Cauberg in the last kilometers of last season’s edition, they now decided to take the peloton over a new descent from the Geulhemmerberg (1000m, 6.2%), the day’s penultimate climb, which could give an advantage to the attackers, who later in the race will have also the undulating roads from the top of the Bemelerberg (900m, 4.6%) to try and foil the plans of those hoping to keep everything together.
Known also as “The King of the Cauberg”, Philippe Gilbert is a rider for whom Amstel Gold Race has no more secrets; a four-time winner of the prestigious Dutch classic (2010, 2011, 2014, 2017), he also won the World Championships over a course more or less similar, six years ago, all results that make him the living symbol of the 900m-long climb which appears three times on the parcours. This year, the experienced Belgian will be again one of the contenders, as he’ll be making his 13th outing in the Dutch Classic.
Also making the Belgian squad headlined by the defending champion are Julian Alaphilippe, Bob Jungels, Davide Martinelli, Enric Mas, Pieter Serry and Tour of Flanders champion Niki Terpstra.
“We are lining up with a strong squad, hoping that we can be in the mix when the race is decided and perhaps repeat last year’s success. The final has changed again, so we will have narrower roads in the last kilometers, which can play in favor of the breakaway. Staying in front will be important as the roads make it hard to organize a chase”, said sports director Wilfried Peeters.
“However, it is not the race nor the route, but the riders who make the difference. Amstel is one of those races where you have to be awake at all times and there will be a lot of fighting for positions. Being in the right place at the right time makes the difference but to be there, you need not only to be smart but also to have the legs.”