Preview: Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition 2024

The first of three one-day races collectively known as the Ardennes Classics, the Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition actually takes place in the Netherlands, rather than in the Belgian Ardennes like La Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège which follow it.

The race marks a turning point in the calendar, and offers a different proposition to the women’s peloton as the bunch leave the cobbles of Flanders and head for the Dutch bergs. With a different skillset required, team line-ups look a little different, with climbers favoured and fast finishers taking a step back.

The 10th edition of the race takes place on Sunday 14th April 2024.

The Route – Maastricht – Valkenburg (156.7km)

Beginning in the city of Maastricht, the race route heads out across the Limburg province of the Netherlands. The area defies the odds in a famously flat nation, with several hills to challenge the riders along the route.

The race has increased its total distance steadily over the past few years, and this year’s route is similar to last year, with 21 climbs along its 156.7km distance.

In addition to the bergs, the peloton must also contend with narrow country roads in the early stages of the race, followed by a largely urban parcours in the final circuit, taking care around the many roundabouts and items of road furniture.

After heading north for some time and then back south once again, the riders will tackle the familiar 18-kilometre circuit four times, which features three key climbs along its length. The infamous Cauberg is at the heart of the race: 800m in length at an average gradient of 6.5%, pitches of up to 12.8% test the riders and offer a platform from which to launch attacks. Two further climbs, the Bemelerberg and Geulhemmerberg, will test the legs and progressively thin out the peloton as each circuit is tackled.

The run-in to the final ascent of the Cauberg has been slightly altered for 2024, with the intention of making the final more selective. And selective it will be – with just 1.6km left to race before the finish line in Valkenburg, the race-winning attacks will come on the climb, if they have not already been made by then.

Riders to Watch

With the defending champion and World Champion on their roster for the race, Team SD Worx ProTime will once again be the team to beat in the Ardennes Classics. Demi Vollering won the race in 2023 and will be keen to establish herself following a relatively late start to competition in 2024. It’s testament to the expanding skillset of World Champion Lotte Kopecky that we can now consider her a true threat in this race. Her climbing skills have greatly improved and she will hope to claim the first Ardennes classic of her career.

Two more former champions line up in 2024. Marianne Vos (Visma-Lease A Bike) won the race in 2021, and already proving herself in excellent form this season, she will look to add another win to her extensive palmares. Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM) too has been strong so far this season, and her former success at the race will boost her confidence as she seeks her first World Tour victory since 2019, the year in which she won the race. The team also bring Chloe Dygert, who will be hoping to improve upon her tricky start to the season.

Lidl-Trek will as always bring a team of all-rounders capable of being up there at the pointy end of proceedings. Elisa Longo Borghini and Shirin van Anrooij have both acquitted themselves very well so far this Classics season, and will likely continue to do so in the Ardennes.

Returning to competition following her recovery from a fractured sacrum suffered at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, FDJ-SUEZ’s Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig will be one for the favourites to keep a close eye on. The Dane performs well on this type of parcours and will undoubtedly be hoping to get her season back on track with a win. The team bring support in the shape of Grace Brown who can never be ruled out in races like these; if she can find a gap and exploit it she will try for a long-range solo victory.

EF Education-Cannondale will be led by American Kristen Faulkner. She too has looked strong this season, going deep in Strade Bianche, and with a strong climbing ability, she is a definite favourite. Another rider who has acquitted herself well this season is AG Insurance-Soudal’s Sarah Gigante, She began the year strongly with victory at the Tour Down Under and the rolling hills of the Ardennes will suit her riding style.

Yara Kastelijn may still fall under the bracket of ‘outsider’ but with a Tour de France Femmes stage victory under her belt, she has been confidently animating races already this season. She may be a dark horse for victory for her lively Fenix-Deceuninck team.

Silvia Persico (UAE Team ADQ), Pfeiffer Georgi and Juliette Labous (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL) and Mavi Garcia and Ella Wyllie (Liv-Alula Jayco) could also be in with a shot at victory.

Riders to Watch

5-stars Demi Vollering, Kasia Niewiadoma

4-stars Marianne Vos, Lotte Kopecky, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig

3-stars Kristen Faulkner, Yara Kastelijn, Sarah Gigante

2-stars Pfeiffer Georgi, Mavi Garcia, Chloe Dygert

1-star Ella Wyllie, Juliette Labous, Silvia Persico

Summary

When – Sunday 14th April 2024

Where – The Netherlands

What – One-day race

TV Coverage: Discovery+, Eurosport

 

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