Opinion

We Look At 5 Riders To Watch Out For At The Amstel Gold Race

The Ardennes are coming

With Paris-Roubaix and the last of the cobbled classics done, our attentions turn to the Ardennes as the climbing specialists stake their claim for spring classic glory.

First up is the Dutch classic, the Amstel Gold Race, whose profile is in stark difference to the pan flat cobblestones of Roubaix.

The heavier riders like Niki Terpstra and Sep Vanmarcke make way for the lighter more nimble riders who dance up climbs and eat hill repeats for breakfast. So who have we got down for this first test of vertical stamina?

1. Philippe Gilbert

Gilbert climbing the Cauberg on his way to winning the rainbow jersey

Having won here four times already, it would be foolish to not to include Philippe Gilbert who has dominated this race with only Jan Raas sitting ahead of him with five wins.

The Belgian rider has shown a penchant for one of the final climbs of the day, the Cauberg, where not only has he shown his Amstel Gold Race dominance but also the scene of his epic attack to secure himself the rainbow jersey back in 2012.

Gilbert’s 2018 season includes podium finishes at the Tour of Flanders and E3 Harelbeke but having failed to win a single victory, can he turn it on for one of his favourite races in the professional calendar?

2. Michal Kwiatkowski

Kwiatkowski opted to miss much of the cobbled season but returns for the Ardennes

Michael Kwiatkowski showed some early forays in the season taking overall victories at the Volta ao Algarve and Tirreno-Adriatico but shied away from one day glory with 11th at Milan-San Remo being his highest finish on the one day stage.

Clearly evolving himself into a more all round style of rider, the Pole will be eager to test his climbing capabilities once more at a race he won back in 2015 as he takes to the Maastricht starting line.

Will the former world champion be able to snag his first one day victory of the year or will he be lacking in form?

3. Alejandro Valverde

Día de bici crono💪☺

A post shared by Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (@alejandvalverde) on

The 37-year-old rider who seems to be constantly excellent at everything he does, will try his hand at taking a maiden victory at the Amstel Gold Race as he prepares himself for one of his favourite parts of the season.

Alejandro Valverde has an affinity with the latter part of the spring classics having won two of its most well known races in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and La Fleche Wallon a combined nine times! To the point where race organisers have had to adjust the course just to make sure that he doesn’t win again only for him to win again.

Valverde’s season so far has seen him take overall victories at Volta a la Communitat Valenciana, the Abu Dhabi Tour and Volta a Catalunya as well as post up a whole host of top tens and stage wins. Beast.

4. Michael Matthews

Matthews won the green jersey at the Tour de France thanks to his climbing ability (Photo: ASO)

A serious dark horse, Michael Matthews is a sprinter who can climb as shown with his Tour de France antics last year winning him his first green jersey.

Unfortunately for the Australian the spring classics have seen him spend more time on the sidelines than racing after crashing at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and breaking his shoulder in the process.

As plucky as ever though, the rider also known as Bling, hasn’t given up and managed to finish seventh at Milan-San Remo before two 13th placed finishes at E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem.

He may not be red hot at the moment but rule out the determined 27-year-old at your peril.

5. Peter Sagan

In his last race before ramping up his Tour de France preparations, Peter Sagan will take to the Amstel Gold Race for the first time since 2013.

A week after his sensational win at Paris-Roubaix, Sagan will take to the Netherlands to try his luck at the Ardenne opener. However, being slightly heavier than the counterparts in this list we feel he may struggle.

However, the world champion has shown just how good he is at climbing in the past when his fans least expect it so we could be proven wrong here. Either way he will surely entertain us while he is doing it.

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