The Ardennes Classics begin on Sunday with the 46th running of the Amstel Gold Race (April 17).

Although it lacks the prestige and excitement of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, as well as the history of the Fleche Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège that follow it, the Limburg-based race is notoriously unpredictable.

You have to go back to 1980 to find the last man rider to win the classic in consecutive years; in fact Jan Raas took four victories in a row starting in 1977. Raas’s fifth and final triumph here 29 years ago was also the last time a rider won the race more than once.

Since then, Michael Boogerd has come the closest – winner in 1999 (ahead of Lance Armstrong, who enjoyed racing here), the Dutchman was second in 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005, as well as coming third in 2002 and 2006.

2010 winner Philippe Gilbert is the favourite for the win on Sunday- but the classics so far this season have fared differently to everyone’s expectations. Gilbert was the first Belgian to win the race since Johan Museeuw in 1994, and the focus this year could well turn to the native riders, with Erik Dekker’s victory ten years ago the last time a Dutch rider won their country’s biggest race.

Gilbert attacked within the final 500 metres, having previously instigated a breakaway group that included previous winners Serguei Ivanov, Frank Schleck and Damiano Cunego.

amstel gold 2010, amstel, philippe gilbert, cadel evans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The race also came during ash cloud crisis, with several teams unable to make it to the start in Maastricht because of air traffic restrictions. Caisse d’Epargne raced with just three riders out of their quota of eight, and had to gain permission from the UCI to compete with a squad size that small. Bradley Wiggins and Carlos Sastre also missed the race because of the chaos caused by Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

Amstel Gold Race 2011: The route


The race was modified dramatically in 2003, with the finish being moved from Maastricht to the top of the Cauberg. Once suited to small escape groups and an occasional bunch sprint, the whole dynamic of the race changed. Now, having previously passed it twice – once in the opening 75km and again with around 80km remaining – the Cauberg (900m long, 7% average gradient) often acts as a launchpad for victory. 



257.8km
, starts: Maastricht


The climbs



1. Maasberg (KM 10.7, 247.1 KM to go)


2. Adsteeg (KM 30.5, 227.3 KM to go)


3. Lange Raarberg (KM 37.5, 220.3 KM to go )


4. Bergseweg (KM 54.6, 203.2 KM to go)


5. Sibbergrubbe (KM 66.5, 191.3 KM to go)


6. Cauberg (KM 71.9, 185.9 KM to go)


7. Wolfsberg (KM 93.1, 164.7 KM to go)


8. Loorberg (KM 98.7, 159.1 KM to go)


9. Schweibergerweg (KM 108.8, 149 KM to go)


10. Camerig (KM 115.2, 142.6 KM to go)


11. Drielandenpunt (KM 128.2, 129.6 KM to go)


12. Gemmenich (KM 131, 126.8 KM to go)


13. Vijlenerbos (KM 134.5, 123.3 KM to go)


14. Eperheide (KM 145, 112.8 KM to go)


15. Gulperberg (KM 152.3, 105.5 KM to go)


16. Van Plettenbergweg (KM 155.9, 101.9 KM to go)


17. Eyserbosweg (KM 157.8, 100 KM to go)


18. Huls (KM 162.7, 95.1 KM to go)


19. Vrakelberg (KM 168.1, 89.7 KM to go)


20. Sibbergrubbe (KM 176, 81.8 KM to go)


21. Cauberg (KM 181.5, 76.3 KM to go)


22. Geulhemmerweg (KM 185, 72.8 KM to go)


23. Bemelerberg (KM 198.7, 59.1 KM to go)


24. Wolfsberg (KM 215.8, 42 KM to go)


25. Loorberg (KM 221.4, 36.4 KM to go)


26. Gulperberg (KM 229.7, 28.1 KM to go)


27. Kruisberg (KM 235.2, 22.6 KM to go)


28. Eyserbosweg (KM 237.3, 20.5 KM to go)


29. Fromberg (KM 241, 16.8 KM to go)


30. Keutenberg (KM 245.5, 12.3 KM to go)


Finish – 31. Cauberg (KM 206.4)

Amstel Gold Race 2011: Teams


Ag2r-La Mondiale


Astana


BMC Racing Team


Cofidis


Euskaltel-Euskadi


Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli 


Garmin-Cervelo


HTC-Highroad

Katusha


Landbouwkrediet


Lampre-ISD


Leopard Trek


Liquigas-Cannondale


Movistar


Omega Pharma-Lotto


Quick Step


Rabobank


RadioShack


Saxo Bank Sungard


Skil-Shimano


Team Sky


Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator


Vacansoleil-DCM


Veranda’s Willems

Amstel Gold Race 2011: British riders


Full start list to be confirmed


Steve Cummings (Team Sky)

Amstel Gold Race 2011: TV guide


British Eurosport


Sunday April 18, 14.15-16.00, Amstel Gold Race LIVE


Sunday April 18, 22.00-23.00, Amstel Gold Race highlights


Monday April 19, 7.45-9.00, Amstel Gold Race highlights

Eurosport HD


Sunday April 18, 14.15-16.00, Amstel Gold Race LIVE


Monday April 19, 7.45-9.00, Amstel Gold Race highlights

Amstel Gold Race: Recent winners


2010 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto


2009 Sergei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha


2008 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre


2007 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner


2006 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC


2005 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi


2004 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner


2003 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom


2002 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo


2001 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank


2000 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom


amstel gold 2010, amstel, philippe gilbert, cadel evans

Amstel Gold Race: Last year’s top ten


1. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto in 6-22-54


2. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions at 2sec


3. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana same time


4. Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet at 5sec


5. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas


6. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre both same time


7. Frank Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 7sec


8. Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil at 9sec


9. Karsten Kroon (Ned) BMC Racing at 11sec


10. Chris Horner (USA) Radioshack same time


British


76. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky at 10-20

Related links


Spring Classics 2011- coverage index