Mitchelton-SCOTT hoping to go one-step more at Amstel Gold RaceThu 18 Apr 2019
After consistent performances, having finished on the podium in five of the past six editions of the race, Mitchelton-SCOTT return to this year’s Amstel Gold race hungry to get things right and clinch that elusive victory.
Dual South African Champion Daryl Impey will head the strong Australian outfit in the one-day Ardennes Classic, hoping to benefit from a slight change of preparation leading into the event.
The team surrounding him is bolstered with talented riders in good form, with some coming in from the cobble Classics and others from a big stage racing block. The oldest member of the team Michael Albasini brings his valuable wealth of experience to the squad, having finished on the podium himself in the event once before.
The course has been modified over the years and for this year’s 54th edition, the route follows the same laps that we have seen the last two years, with a new final 16kilometre finishing lap which misses out the Cauberg climb.
The peloton leave Maastricht and head out into the relentless Limburg hills, and with no less than 35 climbs on the menu, it is one of the hardest one-day classics. The climbs are scattered throughout three large laps that includs three ascents of the Cauberg climb with the riders passing through the finish line in Vilt-Valkenburg each time.
After 249kilometres of racing and 33 climbs, the riders head up the Cauberg and through the finish line for the final time ready for the last lap which can decisive and features two climbs, the Geulhemmerberg and the Bemelerberg for riders to use as a launch pad.
The team has always been consistent in the race with five podium finishes in the last six editions from four different riders. Last year former rider Roman Kreuziger finished the highest the team has ever done before with second place. In 2017 Albasini took third spot, likewise in 2015 with former rider Michael Matthews.
Simon Gerrans came close one two occasions, finishing in third place in both 2014 and 2015. Impey’s best performances was last year where he finished in 11th position.
"I have changed things around a bit this year and I am trying a different approach by going to altitude before the Ardennes. The hard work is done and now it's time to see how it all works out.
“I have confidence in myself and the team that we can do well here. No doubt Amstel is the more realistic of the three Ardennes race for me to win and it is a race I enjoy and suits my characteristics quite well.
“We have a very solid team, mixed with experience and youth. Everyone seems to going very well and that makes everyone lift, it is great to see everyone is motivated.”
Matt White - Head Sport Director
“I think we have good cards to play. The tricky thing about Amstel is making the break, it is a real tactical race, it used to be almost a guaranteed reduced group sprint over the Cauberg but since they changed the course it just forces the race to play out differently.
"It could still be a sprint but there’s not really enough sprint teams that have number to neutralise any breakaways, so the general trend the last couple of years has been a real aggressive last hour and once the right combination of teams go, it is very very hard to shut it down.
“We’ve been on the podium in this race with four different riders over the years, so it has been a good hunting ground for us and we’ve got riders that are good on that type of terrain and we expect to be in the mix.”
Amstel Gold Race Details:
Sunday, 21 April: Maastricht to Vilt-Valkenburg - 265,7km
Photos courtesy of Kramon