WWT preview: The Dutch battle for Amstel Gold
Amstel Gold is back! After a 14-year hiatus, the women’s peloton returns to the punchy race through the Netherlands as the sixth stop of the Women’s WorldTour this Sunday. Amstel joins Liège-Bastogne-Liège’s new women’s race as well as Flèche Wallonne Féminine for a trio of hilly one-day races.
While Tour of Flanders, April 2, was the pinnacle of the women’s spring calendar, Amstel Gold is not far behind. Held in the Limburg region, Amstel feels like a hometown race for every Dutch team and Dutch rider — and there are a lot of them in women’s cycling. “[Amstel] is special for us,” Anna van der Breggen said of her Boels-Dolmans squad. “The team is from Holland and that one is really important for the whole team.”
Coryn Rivera and her Dutch Sunweb squad enter the race with confidence, having spent plenty of time training on the same roads they’ll face on Sunday. “Amstel is actually like a backyard race for us,” she said. “We train on most of the [course] so that will be really cool.”
Amstel is best known for two things: light beer and punchy climbs. While spectators are treated to the former — thanks to the race’s long-time title sponsor — racers will face Holland’s relentless terrain and steep, punchy climbs.
The short 121.6-kilometer route includes many of the same climbs as the men’s race. They’ll charge up short climbs like the Geulhemmerberg (970 meters at 7.9 percent), the Bemelerberg (900 meters at 7 percent), and finish 1.8 kilometers beyond the top of the Cauberg (1.5km at 4.7 percent), giving the peloton a small glimmer of hope to chase back any attacks established by the climbers.
The women’s peloton last faced the Cauberg’s steep slope at the 2012 world championships where Marianne Vos (WM3 Energie) powered up the climb to the win ahead of Australia’s Rachel Neylan and Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5). The last rider to win women’s Amstel Gold Race was Britain’s Nicole Cooke in 2003.
With a tough finish similar to Flèche Wallonne, watch for powerful climbers with quick acceleration to factor in the final kilometers. Vos, van der Breggen, and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot have each won on Flèche’s Mur de Huy and bring this experience and strength to Amstel’s uphill finish. But strong sprinters like Rivera and Gracie Elvin (Orica-Scott) will be hard to beat if they make it up the final climb with the leaders.
Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans)
Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb)
Gracie Elvin (Orica-Scott)
Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans)
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Canyon-SRAM)
Katarzyna Niewiadoma (WM3 Energie)
Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans)
Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-SRAM)
Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5)
Marianne Vos (WM3 Energie)
Allie Dragoo (Cervélo-Bigla)
Audrey Cordon (Wiggle-High5)
Katrin Garfoot (Orica-Scott)