Mitchelton-SCOTT women looking forward to Sunday’s special Amstel Gold RaceThu 12 Apr 2018
The UCI Women’s WorldTour continues on Sunday with the first of the big Ardennes Classics, Amstel Gold Race and Mitchelton-SCOTT head to the Netherlands looking for another strong display at the traditional turning point of the spring classics.
Sunday’s second edition of the women’s race starts in Maastricht and heads south, covering a total of 17climbs over 119.4kilometres including the Geulhemmerberg, Bemelerberg and the iconic Cauberg.
The finish comes only 1.6kilometres after the Cauberg and the line will be crossed three times on the closing circuits of 17.8kilometres.
Mitchelton-SCOTT take a strong team into the race led by world time trial champion Annemiek Van Vleuten, Santos Tour Down Under winner Amanda Spratt and talented climber Lucy Kennedy.
With plenty of versatility and strength in depth in the six-rider squad, the support comes from Belgian road champion Jolien D’hoore and Australians Jess Allen and Jenelle Crooks.
Jess Allen (AUS, 24)
Jenelle Crooks (AUS, 23)
Jolien D’hoore (BEL, 28)
Lucy Kennedy (AUS, 29)
Amanda Spratt (AUS, 30)
Annemiek Van Vleuten (NED, 35)
The Australian outfit’s best result came in 2017 when Van Vleuten placed third behind solo winner Anna Van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) who attacked off the wheel of Van Vleuten after the La Course champion had brought the front of the race back together on the Bemelerberg.
To have numbers up there over the climbs on the final circuits will be key and there is no doubt that attacks and splits will come ahead of the last time over the Cauberg.
With a squad full of options and capable of a result as last year’s top three performance showed, Mitchelton-SCOTT will be aiming to be in contention again at the weekend.
Annemiek Van Vleuten:
“We are going into Sundays race with a really good team and two fresh riders in Lucy and Amanda who both showed in Strade Bianche that they are strong climbers and I think with those two coming in we will have one of the strongest teams for the Ardennes Classics.”
“I am very focused for Amstel Gold and I feel good. I’m in good shape I drove to the south of the Netherlands yesterday to ride and recon the course and I went super hard over all the climbs, which is a sign that I am really prepared, not just physically, but also mentally.
“I am looking forward to racing with the team again and hopefully we will have some numbers in the final to be up there competing and with Amanda and Lucy I am convinced we can do that and do well.
“It’s a really special race for me, my home race and last year I had goose bumps when we were presented alongside the men at the start and I am sure it will be the same feeling for me in Maastricht on Sunday.”
Sport director Gene Bates:
“The course is pretty much the same as last year and with Annemiek’s third place we had a good showing and always enjoy this event. It’s a good race and for Annemiek it’s a home event and very special.”
“Amstel Gold is one of our targets for the Spring, but our preparation hasn’t been ideal with illness and injuries, but everyone is ok now, the spirit and motivation within the group is very good and we are looking forward to giving it a good crack on Sunday.
“We are going into the race as underdogs, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. With this team we have some really strong options in Annemiek, Amanda and Lucy who are all rider who can climb with the best and be up there when the key moves go.
“The support group for our climbers is also very strong with Jenelle, Jess and Jolien – who is really keen to work for her teammates after enjoying their support over the cobbled classics and we have all the right ingredients to try and get a good result.”
Amstel Gold Race, 119.4kilometres, Sunday 15thof April.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.