Mitchelton-SCOTT women kick-off the Ardennes classics with Amstel GoldWed 17 Apr 2019
Mitchelton-SCOTT head to the Amstel Gold race on Sunday with an array of climbing talent looking to kick-off the Ardennes week with a bang.
Double time trial world champion Annemiek van Vleuten will be back in action after her second place at the Tour of Flanders, while Australian Amanda Spratt will be looking to for another strong performance after her third-place last year.
Grace Brown (AUS, 26)
Gracie Elvin (AUS, 30)
Lucy Kennedy (AUS, 30)
Amanda Spratt (AUS, 31)
Moniek Tenniglo (NED, 30)
Annemiek van Vleuten (NED, 36)
The tough 126.8km course on the outskirts of Maastricht is a hilly affair with 19 climbs to be taken by the peloton. The Zwartebrugweg, Eyserbosweg and the Keutenberg will each be faced before the bunch head onto three local laps centred around the finish on the Cauberg.
The finishing loop consists of three punishing climbs including the Geulhemmerberg (970 metres, gradient 7.9%), the Bemelerberg (900 metres, gradient 7%) and the famous Cauberg (800 meters, gradient 12%) which will be the final ascent before a short flat run to the finish.
Triple Tour Down Under champion Spratt took a podium spot with third place last season, while Van Vleuten narrowly missed out on the rostrum when she finished fourth the previous year.
Annemiek van Vleuten:
“It’s hard to know what to expect, but I know the course off by heart. Everyone knows it will be important to be positioned well before the narrow climbs and I think with such a strong team our chances are getting better.”
“But first the others will have to suffer, I’m hoping for a race of attrition, not like Flanders when we cruised up every climb. It would be better for us to have an aggressive race on every climb, so the faster riders suffer a bit more.”
“It’s no secret that my big target for the first half of the season are the Ardennes races so I just feel excited and ready for these races to start.
"All the training and hard work is done now, and I feel like I am a level above what I was this time last year so that gives me a lot of confidence in myself. I think the strength of our team is also something to be really excited about and I hope we will be in the final with good numbers so we can play a good tactical game."
“I expect an aggressive race that brings us to the final circuits where I think we need to play to our strengths and go for the win. We don’t have just one rider who can win so the most important thing for me on Sunday will be to create a situation where someone from our team can win.”
Martin Vestby (Sports Director):
“Both Annemiek and Spratty have found some good form and they’re both targeting the Ardennes classics, so we’ll be hoping to score some good results with those two. But we also have Lucy Kennedy coming into these races that suit her a lot better, so I think we have a strong team with good climbers.”
“I expect the race to be harder than the other classics, when you look at the course and the climbs. I think we will need to take some responsibility to make the race hard as well, and for us hopefully it will come down to a small group.”
“It’s always hard to predict these races, but I think we just need to race our race. We’re going into it with cards to play and I think that puts us in a strong position.”
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.