Final Amstel Gold race wildcards announced

MTN-Qhubeka, Cult Energy, CCC Polkowice, Nippo-Vini Fantini, and Bardiani-CSF invited to Amstel Gold Race

Five teams have been awarded the final wildcard slots for the Amstel Gold race, which will take place April 19, the race organization announced Monday.

MTN-Qhubeka, CCC Polkowice Sprandi, Nippo-Vini Fantini, Cult Energy, and Bardiani-CSF will join previously-announced wildcards Team Roompot, Wanty-Groupe Gobert, and Topsort Vlaanderen-Baloise as well as the 17 UCI ProTeams at the start line in Maastricht.

The wildcard invites hold three former Amstel winners in their ranks. Damiano Cunego of Nippo-Vini Fantini won in 2008, while CCC’s Davide Rebellin and Stefan Schumacher won in 2004 and 2007, respectively, before both riders failed doping tests at the 2008 Summer Olympics and served two-year bans.

Cult Energy will back Fabian Wegmann, according to its sport director Michael Skelde.

“We are a small team compared to our opponents but I believe that Fabian [Wegmann] will be able to pull a top-10 result and that will be our goal besides from keep racing aggressively,” Skelde said.

The races will once again finish in Valkenberg, 1.8-kilometers from the top of the Cauberg climb, which riders will face twice in the final portion of the race. The race covers 33 climbs and over 13,000 feet of climbing. Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) will seek to defend his 2014 victory.