Amstel Gold Race 2010: The Big Preview
Amstel Gold Race 2010 logo
The Amstel Gold Race kicks off the 2010 Ardennes Classics on Sunday (April 18).
The Dutch ProTour race may not have the prestige or history of the longer-established Belgian races that follow it - La Fleche Wallonne (April 21) and Liege-Bastogne-Liege (April 25) - but it was given a new lease of life in 2003 with the introduction of the Cauberg as a finishing ascent. It's also our favourite race named after a brand of beer.
A glance down the list of winners from 2003 (see below) shows a mixture of attackers and climbers. Sadly, it also shows how many former winners have since fallen foul of anti-doping controls - but we won't hold that against the race itself.
Last year, Russian Sergei Ivanov (Katusha) out-rode Dutchman Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank) to take the win eight seconds ahead of skinny climber Robert Gesink (Rabobank), who the lead pair had dropped at the foot of the Cauberg.
Ivanov, Kroon and Gesink are back this year but all eyes will be on Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix winner Fabian Cancellara. The Swiss Saxo Bank rider's power in the cobbled classics was unrivalled. He's done the double, can he make it a historic treble? And will he have his little gold angel in his back pocket just in case?
Of course, no one is unbeatable and Amstel offers up a very different race than the cobbled classics. And the start list contains many riders who Cancellara has not come up against yet, and who may have fresher legs for it.
There are also those who will be looking for a win at any cost - we'll be waiting for Philippe Gilbert's late attack in an attempt to give his Omega Pharma-Lotto squad a badly-needed first win of 2010.
Britain is represented by three riders: Cervelo's Daniel Lloyd and the Team Sky pairing of Russell Downing and Ben Swift. Swift was Britain's only participant in last year's race, finishing 56th. Lloyd was scheduled to ride last year, but a fever put paid to his participation.
Downing's former CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta team-mate Malcolm Elliott is the only Brit to have touched the Amstel podium, with third in 1987. Downing won a stage of the Criterium International on an uphill finish in March and could do well here - it's been 13 years since a British rider finished in the top 20.
Amstel Gold Race 2010: Route
Sunday, April 18
Amstel Gold Race 2010: Teams
BMC Racing Team
Cervelo Test Team
Francaise des Jeux
Amstel Gold Race 2010: British riders
Russell Downing (Team Sky)
Ben Swift (Team Sky)
Daniel Lloyd (Cervelo Test Team)
Amstel Gold Race 2010: TV guide
Sunday April 18, 2.15-4pm, LIVE Amstel Gold Race, British Eurosport
Sunday April 18, 10.45-11.45pm, Amstel Gold Race highlights, British Eurosport
Amstel Gold Race: Recent winners
2009 Sergei Ivanov (Russia)
2008 Damiano Cunego (Italy)
2007 Stefan Schumacher (Germany)
2006 Frank Schleck (Luxembourg)
2005 Danilo Di Luca (Italy)
2004 Davide Rebellin (Italy)
2003 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan)
2002 Michele Bartoli (Italy)
2001 Erik Dekker (Netherlands)
2000 Erik Zabel (Germany)
1999 Michael Boogerd (Netherlands)
Sergei Ivanov wins in 2009
Amstel Gold Race: Last year's top ten
1. Sergei Ivanov (Rus) Katusha in 6-38-31
2. Karsten Kroon (Ned) Saxo Bank
3. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank at 8secs
4. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Silence-Lotto
5. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre
6. Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2r
7. Nicolas Roche (Ire) Ag2r
8. Nick Nuyens (Bel) Rabobank
9. Christian Pfannberger (Aut) Katusha
10. Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Saxo Bank all same time.
56. Ben Swift (GB) Katusha at 4-30
Amstel Gold Race: The Brits at Amstel
All the top 20 finishes by British riders at the Amstel Gold Race
3rd - Malcolm Elliott 1987
Read about how Elliott was turned over by the Dutch in Cycling Weekly Classic
4th - Joey McLoughlin 1986
15th - Barry Hoban 1971
18th - Graham Jones 1979
19th - Max Sciandri 1997