The Amstel Gold Race has a facelift for the 2017 edition, as the famous Cauberg climb will not be included in the final kilometers of the Dutch race. Race organizers announced the news Wednesday, saying that they hope the change will open up the race and encourage aggressive riding in the finale, because in years past, top riders have waited until the final passage of the Cauberg to attack.
“With Roman Kreuziger, Philippe Gilbert, Michal Kwiatkowski, and Enrico Gasparotto, the Amstel Gold Race had great winners the latest years,” course director Leo van Vliet said. “Despite this, after the race there always was discussion that the course was locked too long because the Cauberg at two kilometers from the finish would be too decisive. However it is a worldwide image in many races that riders wait a long time until the race enters the same breaking point every year. By deleting the last climb of the Cauberg from our race we hope to create a more open race, which leads to more potential winners and the attacking riders will have more chance.”
Enrico Gasparotto took a surprise win in Amstel Gold 2016, riding for Pro Continental team Wanty – Groupe Gobert. The first hilly classic of “Ardennes week” usually comes down to a final sprint up the Cauberg, and 2016 was no exception. This year’s route will still include the iconic climb three times, but the final passage will come 19km from the finish.
“It is not the organizers, but the riders and the teams that make the race. It is clear that the Cauberg, at around 19 kilometers from the finish, will be less decisive,” added van Vliet.
After riding in the breakaway in the 2016 race, American Alex Howes (Cannondale – Drapac) described the race as having a “Beautiful atmosphere. It’s a big fiesta on the Cauberg and the Bemelerberg — every other berg has a party going on. It’s very festive.”
In addition to the men’s race, Amstel Gold Race is a Women’s WorldTour event, and it will keep the Cauberg as part of its finale.