Simon Gerrans finished on the Amstel Gold Race podium two years ago. Having recently won stages at Volta a Catalunya and Vuelta al Pais Vasco, he has shown he has the form, motivation and team support required to repeat the feat. This year, Gerrans is aiming for the top step. While he admits that the change to finish and the inclusion of 34 (up from 32) climbs adds an element of the unknown, Gerrans expects his team to be fully capable of challenging for the win. In his own words, Gerrans previews the first of the three Ardennes Classics.
The three races that are collectively called ‘The Ardennes’ are held over eight days of racing in Holland (Amstel Gold) and the Wallonie region of Belgium (Flèche Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège). These three races are hillier than the Flemish classics and mark the end of the spring classics season.
The peloton at Amstel may include a handful of riders that have recently finished the Flemish Classics, but when we get to Flèche and Liège, it’s a totally different bunch. The big, strong riders shine at the Flemish Classics. Come to the Ardennes, and you’ll see punchy riders, some pure climbers and even guys that expect to do well at the Grand Tours. We’ve seen Andy Schleck win Liège and Cadel Evans win Flèche Wallone. Philippe Gilbert dominated the Ardennes Classics in 2011 when I finished third at Amstel. These are the types of riders that excel in this region.
The final part of Amstel Gold has been changed this year. Instead of finishing on the Cauberg, the race now finishes 1200 metres beyond the top of the climb. The road race at the Road World Championships last year featured this finish, but Amstel Gold features much more climbing than last year’s Worlds course. It’s hard to predict how the finish can and will change the way the race unfolds.
Typically, this is a race of attrition. It gets harder and harder and faster and faster as the day goes on, and with each new difficulty, the front group becomes more and more select. The strongest guys on the day are left to contest the win.
Our team for Amstel raced together at Pais Vasco. We took two stage wins and helped Pieter Weening earn sixth overall. These were good results made possible with some really good teamwork, and it shows that the whole team is racing at a high level. Last year, several of the riders we brought for the Ardennes were racing them for the first time. This year, everybody has that much more experience under their belt. Simply knowing what to expect will allow us to race at a better level.
I’m super motivated for this race. I’ve done well at Amstel Gold in the past, and I know I can do well here again. My goal is to go out there and win, and we have the team to do that this year.
ORICA-GreenEDGE for Amstel Gold: