Races to Watch: Amstel Gold

The Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Paris Roubaix might get all the hype and coverage, but there are a ton of great cycling races all season long. One such fantastic race is the Amsel Gold, and it just so happens to be this weekend, April 16th.

As you may have guessed, the Amstel Gold race is named after a beer. So that’s awesome. In fact, Amstel has been the title sponsor of the one-day race since 1966. The beer itself might be a boring Euro lager, but the race itself is a great kick off for three hilly classics, usually referred to as the Ardennes (the other two races are Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège). The Amstel Gold race  is 258-kilometers (160-miles) of tough, quick climbs and rolling hills with a fast uphill finish.

For the most part in recent years, Amstel has finished with a group sprint at the top of the Cauberg climb. In 2016, though,  Enrico Gasparotto took off at the crest of the hill and held onto the win. And in 2013, six riders broke clear with 20km to go and caught  Igor Astarloa who had attacked early in the race. With only seconds between them and the peloton, some incredible drama was laid out on the road, watch the video above to see what happened. Even in the “duller” years, when the peloton holds for a sprint finish, the 2kms before the finish provide a great show.

This year is going to be a little different. Traditionally, the Cauberg climb has served as Amstel’s finish (1.5km climb averaging 4.7 percent gradient, 12 percent max). For 2017, the riders will climb Cauberg 3 times, but the final ascent of it will come 19km from the finish. Because of that, what this year’s race will look like is largely unknown.

There’s no telling how the 2017 Amstel Gold will play out, and that’s great news for those of use who will be watching.

Say something witty