After a couple of days recovery from the Healthy Ageing Tour, we’re excited for a week of racing in the back yard of our title sponsors. The Ardennes week is one of our favourite weeks of the year not only because of the beautiful racing, but because of the team success of last year as well.
In 2017, Anna van der Breggen won all three Ardennes races: the Amstel Gold Race, the Flèche Wallonne Femmes and the inaugural Liège-Bastogne-Liège. In all three race, she was joined on the podium by Lizzie Deignan in second place.
The Olympic champion will lead the team again this year, but Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team has more cards to play with world champion Chantal Blaak, 2016 Women’s WorldTour winner Megan Guarnier and 2018 Healthy Ageing Tour winner Amy Pieters also taking to the start. The team is completed by Jip van den Bos and Karol-Ann Canuel.
With her Strade Bianche and Tour of Flanders wins, Van der Breggen has shown to be in perfect shape again this spring. Winning the triple herself again is not her main priority though.
“I'm looking forward to it,” said Van der Breggen. “I really enjoy these races, whether I win or not. You can still love and enjoy a race, even if you haven’t won. If I do well, I’m happy. We will see what happens during the week.”
With the British champion absent due to pregnancy this year, the team dynamic will be slightly different during the races, but it’s not something Van der Breggen worries about.
“We will miss Lizzie for sure,” she said. “But we’ve known for long now that she won’t be with us in the races anymore this year and we’ll manage with the rest of the team. If you look at how the team is performing at the moment, I think we’re doing pretty good.”
The Amstel Gold Race returned on the women’s calendar for the first time in fourteen years last year. It’s officially the fifth edition of the race, but only the second Women’s WorldTour edition. The 2018 Amstel Gold Race is held on Sunday 15 April and will start from the Markt in Maastricht shortly after the men’s race, at 10.50am CET.
The route takes the women to Beek, Meersen and Voerendaal to cover seven climbs, before the peloton arrives in Valkenburg for the first crossing of the finish line at around 12.40pm CET. Three loops on a local lap follow, that include the Geulhemmerberg, the Bemelerberg and the Cauberg.
The finish is expected around 2pm. The last thirty minutes of the race will be broadcasted live at NOS in the Netherlands, on Sporza in Belgium and Eurosport 1 in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Boels-Dolmans for the Amstel Gold Race:
Anna van der Breggen
Jip van den Bos