Preview: Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition

Written by: Juliana Reis
Posted 1 month ago

The Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition, the first of three one-day races known as the Ardennes Classics, stands out by being held in the Netherlands rather than the Belgian like its successors: La Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège.

The 10th edition of the race is scheduled for this Sunday, April 14th, 2024 in the most Southern part of The Netherlands with its start in Maastricht and the finish just 20 minutes north of the Cauberg in Valkenburg in a small village of Berg en Terblijt. This race signifies a transition in the cycling calendar. The women’s peloton is now moving away from the cobblestones of Flanders to the Dutch hills, where the climbers are favored.

The first edition of the elite women’s category of the Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition was held in 2001, covering a distance of 114 km, including nine climbs and finishing in Cauberg. However, after the 2003 edition, the race was discontinued due to logistical challenges associated with organizing the race on the same day and the same route as the men’s race.

The race made its comeback in 2017, after a 14-year break, being the race part of the UCI Women’s World Tour. The parcous has increased in distance over the past few years, nonetheless, the route this edition is similar to last year’s, with 21 climbs along its 157.8km distance, 24 teams will align in Maastricht and go for the finishing in Valkenburg.

You can follow the Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition from the start at 9.55 CET right through to the expected finish around 14.15 CET with our live tracking and live updates in our ProCycling Women App on Android or iPhone!




What happened last year?

A cold start on the Vrijthof in Maastricht where rider gathered for their presentation to the public. In the first hour of the race, the peloton sticks together but then a group of 9 riders break from the peloton, including Lucinda Brand and Marianne Vos. Before the final circuit, the breakaway was reeled in by the peloton. As the riders descended the Geulhemmerberg for the first time, Lucinda Brand (Trek–Segafredo) launched another attack and getting and Sabrina Stultiens (Liv Racing TeqFind) with her, gaining two minutes over the peloton. Despite several riders’ attempts to bridge the gap, Brand and Stultiens were still ahead by around 30 seconds with two laps to go. However, approximately 20 kilometers from the finish, they were caught by the main group.

As the race entered its final lap, numerous contenders made efforts to break away from the peloton, in the last ascent of the Cauberg, Grace Brown of FDJ Suez and Soraya Paladin of Canyon//SRAM held a 10-second advantage over the peloton. Nevertheless, a strong effort from Liane Lippert (Movistar Team) closed the gap, bringing the main contenders together at the summit of the Cauberg.

At the top of the Cauberg when the peloton slowed down, Demi Vollering (SD Worx) made a decisive solo attack. The attack happened on the exact same place that Marta Cavalli placed her winning attack the year before. Despite attempts from others to chase her down, the presence of Vollering’s teammate Lotte Kopecky in the chasing group discouraged coordinated efforts, having Demi Vollering crossing the finish line in Berg en Terblijt solo and winning the Amstel Gold Race Ladies.

Vollering finally claimed the victory last year after making her move on the Cauberg and riding to the line solo, winning with 8 second lead. Her teammate Lotte Kopecky beat Shirin van Anrooij in the sprint for second place. This triumph marked Vollering’s debut win at the Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition.


The Parcours

Starting the race in Maastricht the riders will have to race through 157.8 Km in the souther regions of Netherlands where the final line will be Berg en Terblijt, two small villages after the Cauberg in Valkenberg.

The Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition is a race in two parts, cyclists in the peloton must navigate through narrow roads in the initial segments of the race, followed by a predominantly urban course in the final circuit, with a lot of road obstacles. Then the peloton hits the finishing circuits, with the succession of the Geulhemmerberg, Bemelerberg, and Cauberg climbs.

The well-known Cauberg, the centerpiece of the race: 800 meters with an average of 6.5%, its gradients reaching up to 12.8% push riders to their limits and serve as launchpads for attacks. Additional climbs like the Bemelerberg and Geulhemmerberg further challenge cyclists, gradually thinning out the peloton with each circuit completed.

In 2024, slight modifications were made to the lead-up to the final ascent of the Cauberg, aiming to intensify the race’s climax. With just 1.6 kilometers remaining before reaching the finish line in Valkenburg, decisive attacks are expected to unfold on the climb, if they haven’t already been launched earlier in the race.

The women’s 2024 Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition kicks off at 9.55 CET. Riders are expected to face the challenging Cauberg for the first time around 12.12 CET – assuming an average speed of 37 km/h -, with the ultimate ascent scheduled for 14.10 CET and the thrilling finish set for 14:15 CET.


The Favorites

Demi Vollering from SD Worx will try to defend her title, with her teammate Lotte Kopecky, the reigning road race world champion, arriving fresh off a victory at last weekend’s Paris–Roubaix Femmes.

Another rider from SD Worx to keep in mind is Vollering’s compatriot, Lorena Wiebes, who has claimed five victories this season and shows strong form. Team SD Worx ProTime will once again be the team to beat in the Ardennes Classics.

Nonetheless, Lidl-Trek will once again assemble a squad of versatile riders who can perform well at the crucial stages of the race, Elisa Longo Borghini – winner of the Tour the Flanders- and Shirin van Anrooij have both demonstrated strong performances throughout the Classics season, and they are expected to maintain this level of performance during the Ardennes races.

Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon/SRAM Racing), who finished second against Longo Borghini in Flanders, will try to secure her first World Tour victory since 2019, the year when she celebrated victory in this same race. Among the top contenders is Marianne Vos from Team Visma | Lease a Bike who already won this race in 2021, and is in very good shape this season.

Returning from injuries, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-SUEZ) – after the crash at Omloop, can be a rider to consider for victory, as well as  Liane Lippert ( Movistar). EF Education-Cannondale will be led by  Kristen Faulkner, after a great performance in Strande Bianchi, securing the TOP-10.

Considering the parcours and the results since the beginning of the season, Silvia Pérsico (UAE Team ADQ), Juliette Labous (Team DSM-Firmenich PostNL,) and  Ella Wyllie (Liv-Alula Jayco) could also have a chance to win.



The Weather

At the start, the temperature will be around 13 degrees Celsius, and a cloudy sky is expected, regarding the wind it will be moderate – 12-19 km/h from a Westerly direction.

During the race, changes are anticipated in the weather conditions. A weak cold front is forecasted to sweep from north to south across the Benelux on Sunday. The movement of this cold front isn’t expected to generate significant activity, although some weather models suggest light afternoon rain, which may not be substantial. Regardless, riders should expect limited sunshine. The moderate northwesterly wind is likely to prevail, and temperatures are projected to range between 14-17°C, depending on cloud cover, which is expected to be mainly medium.

This Sunday holds the much-anticipated Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition, where the star-studded lineup and recent alterations to the final stretch of the course are bound to captivate fans, urging them to closely follow every moment of the race.

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