In a significant development, the Amstel Gold Race, the Netherlands’ premier cycling classic, is set to change hands by 2025. Flanders Classics will take over the event’s organisation from Leo van Vliet, the race director who has been a stalwart figure for nearly three decades. Although van Vliet will step down in 2026, he will continue to work closely with Flanders Classics for a smooth transition in the coming editions. Leontien van Moorsel, however, will retain her role as the race director for the women’s version of the Amstel Gold Race.
The move signals an ambitious future for the event, with Flanders Classics aiming to build upon the race’s existing reputation. Els Dijkhuizen, Marketing Director of HEINEKEN Netherlands, which owns Amstel and sponsors the race, emphasised that Flanders Classics brings a wealth of experience from cycling-centric Belgium. Recognised for its progressive stance on innovation, sustainability, and inclusivity, Flanders Classics is expected to further elevate the Amstel Gold Race, benefiting professional cyclists, amateur riders, and fans alike. Tadej Pogacar won the men’s race in 2023 with Demi Vollering winning the women’s race this year.
Leo van Vliet’s departure in 2026 will mark the end of an era. Taking over from the then race director and founder Herman Krott in 1996, van Vliet has overseen numerous transformations, including the relocation of the start to Maastricht, the finish to Valkenburg, course changes, and the addition of a women’s event. He also initiated the amateur version of the race, which has proven to be a hit. “In all these years, organising a cycling race has become more complex. Flanders Classics has proven to be a high-quality organizer with a passion for cycling, making them the ideal successor,” said van Vliet.
The partnership between Flanders Classics and van Vliet isn’t a new one. Tomas Van Den Spiegel, CEO of Flanders Classics, and van Vliet have exchanged thoughts over the years and previously collaborated on international media rights. “This is an important step for us; with the Amstel Gold Race, we’re expanding our international portfolio,” said Van Den Spiegel, emphasising that the unique character of the Amstel Gold Race would be preserved.
This handover suggests a shifting landscape in professional cycling management, with established race organisers like Flanders Classics expanding their footprint beyond their home turf. With the sport rapidly evolving, the Amstel Gold Race under new stewardship will be closely watched as a model for how classic races can innovate while preserving their unique identities. It also brings the tantalising prospect of a seamless blend of Dutch cycling culture with Belgian organisational prowess. Given the profound respect both parties have for each other, the cycling community awaits with bated breath to see how this storied race evolves in the coming years.