Born again: women’s Amstel Gold Race preview

It’s been a while since the last edition of a women’s Amstel Gold Race was held. In 2001, Debby Mansveld was the first rider to win the first of the Ardennes classics (okay, we know that actually the Ardennes do not include any part of the Netherlands). One year later, the amazing Leontien van Moorsel beat her fellow countrywoman Mirjam Melchers, who had also been second in 2001. Only one more year women’s cycling was able to enjoy one of the most exciting races in the calendar. In 2003, Nicole Cooke was the last rider to win Amstel Gold Race… until 14 years later.

Tomorrow is the day: Amstel Gold Race is back on the calendar! It was part of the UCI Women’s World Cup 14 years ago, and it is now the sixth race of the UCI Women’s WorldTour, which is currently led by Coryn Rivera after her stunning win at De Ronde.

The parcours

Ct2eQdXWgAA4fR5Cauberg, Cauberg, Cauberg, Cauberg! The iconic climb in Limburg will be climbed up to four times in this year’s Amstel Gold Race, although this is not one of the longest races of the year, at all: it’ll be more than 30 km shorter than De Ronde, with only 121 kilometers.

Apart from Cauberg, 13 other hills will be ridden, with special prominence for Geulhemmerberg and Bemelerberg, which will be climbed in the last 15 km. With only 1.1 km to go the top of the Cauberg will be reached for the last time, so the race could be decided riding up the hill in which Marianne Vos attacked to win the 2012 World Championship.

Anyway, there will be many teams and riders interested in a group sprint, so it won’t be easy to escape from the bunch. But of course, with 17 hills in 121 kilometers, the attacks will be constant and there won’t be peace amongst the best riders.

The favorites

After some races in which Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) has been able to reach the top of the UCI Women’s WorldTour overall classification, Amstel Gold Race could be a great chance for the climbers to drop the American on some of the hills in order to approach her in the UCI Women’s WorldTour ranking.

Kasia’s photo © Ella Cycling Tips / Cor Vos
Longo Borghini | Van Vleuten | Niewiadoma // Kasia’s photo © Ella Cycling Tips / Cor Vos

When a race goes uphill, Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) has proved to be one of the more consistent riders this season, although so far this season she has only been able to win Strade Bianche. Climbing Cauberg with only 1.1 km to go could be positive for her to attack and escape solo.

Annemiek van Vleuten (ORICA-Scott) will also be a contestant for the win, as she hasn’t been out of the top-15 in a UCI Women’s WorldTour race this year. Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Energie) will try to reach the second place in the WWT ranking, as she’s currently in third place and Amstel Gold Race is, indeed, a race in which the Polish could show her full potential.

We must not omit Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans), who ended up in second place in last week’s Healthy Ageing Tour (2.2 UCI), although the current European road champion hasn’t been able to reach the top-10 in a UCI Women’s WorldTour race this year.

What about Marianne Vos (WM3 Energie)? Amstel will be her first race in a month, but if there’s anyone who knows how to attack for the win on the Cauberg, that’s her. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) is also a mystery, as she hasn’t competed since Strade Bianche. The American is back to the competition after more than a month out of the races due to an injury. And talking about mystery riders, we can’t forget to mention Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans).

As we said, the WWT leader, Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) doesnt’s seem to be a contestant for the victory… but if the race doesn’t get too hard she will be in the fight. Other riders such as Claudia Lichtenberg (Wiggle-High5), Ellen van Dijk (Sunweb), Alena Amialiusik or Elena Cecchini (Canyon//SRAM), Gracie Elvin (ORICA-Scott), Ashleigh Moolman (Cervélo-Bigla) or Sheyla Gutiérrez (Cylance) could be fighting for top positions.

How to follow Amstel Gold Race

There will be live TV of the race from 13.25 to 14.15 CEST! Eurosport Player will show the race in all Europe, while NOS will broadcast it for the Netherlands and France 3 for —of course— France.

The Twitter hashtag for the race seems to be #AGRwomen… but you know it will be whatever the one and only Richie Steege decides.