Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux will start the Ardennes classics with the 56th edition of the Amstel Gold Race (1.UWT, 10/04) which will be held exceptionally on Sunday between thee Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix this season. After a cancelled edition and an edition on local laps, the race returns to a 254 kilometer parcours with 33 hills in the hilly landscapes in Limburg.
56 kilometer will lead the riders from Vrijthof in Maastricht to the first passage on the finish line in Berg en Terblijt next to Valkenburg, where they will start three loops, each one preceded by the Cauberg (0.8 km at 6.6 %). In the first big loop, the Camerig and Gulpenberg (both covered following two different sides) and Three country point are among the attractions.
The second loop first covers the two final climbs Geulhemmerberg (0.7 km at 6.6 %) and Bemelerberg (1 km at 4.4 %), and then a third side of the Gulpenberg with 51 kilometer to go. A fast succession of the Kruisberg, the Eyserbosweg, the Fromberg, the Keutenberg and the Cauberg lead to the penultimate crossing of the finish line with one loop of 21 kilometer remaining. It contains the Geulhemmerberg and the Bemelerberg which are situated 19 and 7 kilometer before the finish line respectively.
The author of several breakaways this season among which one of more than 200 kilometer in the Tour of Flanders last Sunday, Dutchman Taco van der Hoorn, will race on home soil for the first time this season. He will be accompanied by Italian rider Andrea Pasqualon (12th in Dwars door Vlaanderen, 14th in Ghent-Wevelgem) and five Belgian riders. Jan Bakelants (13th in 2016) will participate for the ninth time. Baptiste Planckaert returns to the roads on which he finished 14th in the Volta Limburg Classic last Saturday and Aimé De Gendt, Tom Devriendt and Kévin Van Melsencomplete the line up directed by Aike Visbeek and Hilaire Van der Schueren.