Traditionally the riders sign the start-list on the Market of Maastricht. Starting at 10.15 (CET) sharp, it’s already after 9.4 kilometres looms the first hill – Slingerberg, a 1.2 kilometres climb at 5.4%. Less than 5 kilometres down the road Adsteeg – 620 metres at 4.7% – is the next hurdle and the riders continue south and near Meerssen – home of former Bayern Munich captain Mark van Bommel – they climb the Lange Raarberg in 1 kilometre at 4.3%. With 38 kilometres done Bergseweg is a 2.2 kilometres uphill section 3.8%.
Not super-steep, but it’s a start. And yes, as we said the race has a total of 34 of those nasty climbs on offer.
Nearing 50 kilometres Sibbergrubbe (2 kilometres, 3.75%) is crested. In the descent the pack speeds through Valkenburg and is ready for the first climb up the Cauberg, which is to be crested four times today, the last time in the finale. The Cauberg was in the 2012 World Championships also and is a 800 metres climb at 12%.
Shortly after the first passage of the finish line comes Geulhemmerberg (1 kilometre, 5.8%) and then it’s time for a little break. In nearly 20 kilometres the riders will feel relief when there is no climbing to be done for a change.
Starting with Wolfsberg (500 metres, 5.8%) the climbs appear in rapid succession – Loorberg (1.6 kilometres, 5.1%), Schweibergerweg (3 kilometres, 3.7%), Camerig (3.6 kilometres, 7%), and Drielandenpunt (2.6 kilometres, 4.2%), where the Netherlands borders on both Germany and Belgium. After a short spin thorugh latter country the hills continue with Gemmenich (2 kilometres, 5.4%), Vijlenerbos (1.8 kilometres, 5.1%) and Eperheide (2.3 kilometres, 4.5%).
Time for another break? After all, we are halfway the 2015 Amstel Gold Race and the riders hardly had any moment to savour the scenery. Pity them, the climbing goes on as before with Gulpenerberg (1.1 kilometres, 5.2%), Plettenberg (1.2 kilometres, 3.7%), Eyserweg (2.1 kilometres, 4.4%), St. Remigiusstraat (900 metres, 8.3%) and Vrakelberg (600 metres, 7.7%). After climbing the Sibbergrubbe for the second time waits the second toil up Cauberg.
Third and final lap
The second passage over the finish line takes the riders again up Geulhemmerberg. Bemelerberg (900 metres, 7%) is next in line to wring their leg muscles. Loorberg pops up for the second time and then comes Kruisberg (800 metres, 8.4%), followed by a sequel up Gulpenerberg. A little trip to the village of Wijlre is the reason Amstel Gold Race offers 258 kilometres in 2015 and not 251.4 kilometres like last year.
Eyserbosweg is a 1.1 kilometres climb at 8% with a steepest 16% section halfway up and then the route meanders towards Fromberg (1.2 kilometres, 4.8%) and Keutenberg (1.7 kilometres, 6.1 %). Then, with 236.9 kilometres done, Cauberg is on the menu for the first time and the finale has really begun.
Normally the speed is immense in the last round and the riders will be flying up Geulhemmerberg and Bemelerberg, but the big decider usually is the last climb up the Cauberg. Until 2012 the race saw a top finish here, but as of 2013 the line is 1.8 kilometres down the road. Last year it was Philippe Gilbert powering to victory with gusto. If he repeats that success it will be his fourth Amstel Gold Race-win.
Click here to read race results and race report.
Amstel Gold Race 2015: Route maps, height profiles, and more
Click on the images to zoom
Final kilometres (video)
Route and profile final 10 km
Climb details of the hills
Amstel Gold Race Tweets