The last climb up the Cauberg is crested with almost 20 kilometres to go before the last round takes in Geulhemmerberg and Bemelerberg. Both are around 1 kilometre at 4.5%, so certainly not the steepest hills in the route of the 2017 Amstel Gold Race. After cresting Bemelerberg it’s 7.3 kilometres left to race.
All recent Flemish Classics were marked by extended finales. Dwars door Vlaanderen, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders – all these races were opened up with tenths of kilometres to go. The new route of the Amstel Gold Race is perfect for a similar scenario.
With almost 50 kilometres remaining the steepest hills follow in quick succession. Firstly the trio Gulpenerberg, Kruisberg and Eyserbosweg, then Keuterberg, and with 19 kilometres left the Cauberg brings steepest ramps of 12.8% to the table. All the way from Gulpenerberg to Cauberg – it’s perfect terrain to go on the attack, or to rev up and get rid of a lot of riders.
Albeit on a different route, Philippe Gilbert did win the Amstel Gold Race three times (2010, 2011, 2014), Enrico Gasparatto twice (2012, 2016), and Michal Kwiatkowski (2015) and Roman Kreuziger (2013) are one-time winners. Both Gilbert and Kwiatkowski are in great shape in 2017, with Gilbert winning the Tour of Flanders and Driedaagse Panne-Koksijde, while the Pole took Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo.
Another pilot with stunning 2017 credentials is Alejandro Valverde. He won Ruta del Sol, Volta a Catalunya and the Tour of the Basque Country. Moreover, he has some unfinished business in the Amstel. In 2013 and 2015 he finished in second, while he was third in 2008 – yet, he never turned out on top.
Sonny Colbrelli is full of confidence. Last Wednesday, he won Brabantse Pijl after he finished in third in the 2016 Amstel Gold Race.
Favourites Amstel Gold Race 2017
*** Philippe Gilbert, Michal Kwiatkowski, Alejandro Valverde, Michael Matthews, Tim Wellens
** Jens Keukeleire, Greg Van Avermaet, Fabio Felline, Oliver Naesen, Sonny Colbrelli
* Michael Valgren, Ben Swift, Rui Costa, Bob Jungels, Daryl Impey, Bryan Coquard, Enrico Gasparotto