Mitchelton-SCOTT ready for the Ardennes with options for Amstel Gold RaceThu 12 Apr 2018
Mitchelton-SCOTT are ready for the second phase of the classics period, the Ardennes races which kick off this Sunday with the 53rd edition of the Amstel Gold Race.
The Australian outfit has options within a diverse seven-rider squad which includes South African champion Daryl Impey, last year’s podium finisher Michael Albasini and former winner of the event Roman Kreuziger.
The 262kilometre one-day Dutch race features a total of 35 classified climbs scattered over three large laps, before a short finishing lap, which was a new amendment to the race in 2017.
The amended route means the riders head up the Cauberg climb and pass the finish line three times before heading out on a 16kilometre finishing loop which includes the Geulhemmerberg and Bemelerberg climbs.
With this new route, the race lends itself to being more active earlier, with the potential for the race winning breakaway forming as far as 45kilometres out.
Matt White - Head Sport director
“It will be only the second time that the Cauberg isn’t in the final of the race in the modern era.It doesn’t seem much, but it changes the race a lot. Forcing guys to look to be in moves a lot early than in the past. The hardest part of Amstel is around 45 kilometres to go when four climbs come in close succession and the race winning break is likely to go in this area.
“Amstel has been a happy hunting group for us in the past, we have been on the podium in the race multiple times and Albasini was on the podium last year. We are going to be competitive and we have guys who can get into the breakaway and get a result.
“For me there are two clear favourites for Sunday, Julian Alaphilippe (Quickstep-Floors) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), because both of them have shown they have incredible form and both will be confident of going to the line with nearly anyone in a sprint as well. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) is also on the start list so this also adds another dimension to the race.”
“Every classic is very special, from one point you hate it but on the other point you love it. It is full gas all day, you have to keep focused and it takes a lot of mental energy.
“With the team we have we have many options, it is a pity we won’t have Matteo Trentin there after his crash in Paris-Roubaix but with the experience from myself, Albasini and Impey we can play many cards and attack.
“We did the different finish last year with a short cut from the roundabout at the top before going straight to the finish, it makes the race different especially for the climbers. It makes it more interesting and makes the races start much much sooner.
“Even without the final climb of the Cauberg, the race will be reduced and I think we will come with maximum 15 - 20 riders to the finish line. I am very motivated, looking forward to the race and putting the numbers on my back.”
"Amstel is one of my favourite races, I have always liked it, it’s like being in an arcade game for six hours. It has so many elements to it and it isn’t so predictable which makes the race.
"You have to take your chance and I want to have a good result there. We have a strong team lining up and I’m looking forward to the start of the Ardennes."
Previously in Amstel Gold race
Last year Michael Albasini enjoyed his first podium finish in the event after Philippe Gilbert (QST) and Michal Kwiatowski (SKY) escaped from a lead group in the latter stages of the race to finish first and second respectively, whilst Albasini won the sprint for third.
The Australian outfit has been on the podium on multiple occasions before with a third place from former rider Simon Gerrans (2013, 2014) and also Michael Matthews (2015).
In the team line-up this year is former winner Roman Kreuziger who is familiar with the race after claiming the victory in 2013 when he was riding for Team Saxo-Tinkoff.
Sunday, 15th April: Maastricht - Valkenburg, 262km
Photo courtesy of Getty Images