The women’s Amstel Gold Race returns after a year off due to COVID-19. The race this year is heavily altered due to the pandemic but at least it gets to take place. The Cauberg remains, however many climbs have fallen by the wayside. The organisers have created a local loop that the women’s peloton will tackle 7 times. Each lap of the local loop contains 3 climbs – the Geulhemmerberg, the Bemelerberg and the Cauberg. The race should be fairly attritional still with 21 climbs on the parcours.
The women’s Amstel Gold Race has had an on-again off-again history. 3 editions took place between 2001 and 2003 before the race was stopped. Organisers at the time cited issues with ensuring the men’s and women’s races didn’t fall over each other. The Amstel Gold Race reappeared in the 2017 season, Anna van der Breggen winning with a late solo attack. Chantal Blaak beat Lucinda Brand and Amanda Spratt in a 3-up sprint in 2018’s race. Kasia Niewiadoma kept Annemiek van Vleuten at bay in 2019 after she gained an advantage on the final ascent of the Cauberg. During the years in-between the Amstel Gold Races, the Holland Hills Classic was ran later in the year. Marianne Vos was 3 time winner and Lizzie Deignan won twice. The pair of Annemiek Van Vleuten and Ashleigh Moolman are the remaining active riders to win that version of the race.
The weather looks good around Valkenburg for Sunday. A solid temperature of 13 degrees could be colder and will no doubt be warmer in the sun. There’s also not much wind to worry about, only 4-6mph from the NNE. Weather shouldn’t play a factor in this year’s Amstel Gold Race.
2020 – Not Held
2019 – Katarzyna Niewiadoma
2018 – Chantal van den Broek-Blaak
2017 – Anna van der Breggen
2016 – Not Held
Sunday 18th April
07:30-11:05 BST on NOS (probably geolocked to the Netherlands)
10:05-11:05 BST on Eurosport Player & GCN
Twitter Hashtag: #AmstelGoldRace
Women’s Amstel Gold Race 2021 Route
Women’s Amstel Gold Race 2021 Favourites
SD Worx have brought a super-strong contingent to the race. Superstar Anna van der Breggen won the race back in 2017 but comes into 2021’s version with some doubts. She missed out on Brabantse Pijl with a non-COVID illness and it’s not 100% that she’ll be recovered by the weekend. If she’s not available, then that raises the chances of heir-apparent Demi Vollering. Vollering was pipped to the finish line at Brabantse Pijl, celebrating a touch too early. Hopefully she doesn’t pull an Alaphilippe and repeat the feat a few days later. Chantal van den Broek-Blaak continues to be a threat and is the 2018 winner of the Amstel Gold Race. She’s kept a watchful eye in a team role since winning Strade Bianche.
Amy Pieters makes a great sprinter option for the team and has a top-10 here from 2017. Other will probably climb better than her though as she nears the end of her Classics form peak. Anna Shackley has replaced Amy Pieters.
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio was 7th at Brabantse Pijl this week as she gears up for the Ardennes Classics. She suffered an unfortunate crash at the finish here in 2019, otherwise, she’d have more than one top-10 finish here.
Ale BTC’s Marta Bastianelli has been up there this season without making many moves. She’s achieved top-10s at Omloop het Nieuwsblad, Nokere Koerse and Gent Wevelgem which shows she still does best in races ending in a sprint. She took 8th in 2019’s women’s Amstel Gold Race, her best result. Her teammate Mavi Garcia is the opposite, she’ll be fine on the climbs but won’t have the sprint to finish things off. She’s been consistent here with finishes in the low-20s. She’s not raced in a month too, with her 6th at Trofeo Alfredo Binda the best result of the season.
2019 Amstel Gold Race winner Kasia Niewiadoma will be hoping for a repeat. She came so close to the win at Dwars Door Vlaanderen this season, losing to Van Vleuten in the sprint that time. She should be a cert for the top-10 but hasn’t quite shown the form to make me predict her as the winner here this year. She’ll be supported by the young Kiwi talent of Mikayla Harvey. She’s still finding her feet at the Canyon SRAM team but as we start to enter the period of racing with longer hills, she should begin to show herself more.
There’s no Lizzie Deignan here this year, so Elisa Longo Borghini is the main option for Trek Segafredo. She has a best result at Amstel Gold Race of 5th in 2017 and animated the 2019 race with a flurry of attacks. She’s someone who may need to go clear before the Cauberg. If she waits for the final climb and doesn’t get a gap, it’s likely she’ll find herself out-sprinted by other competitors. Ruth Winder, who won Brabantse Pijl this week, will provide an excellent in-form alternative for the team as well.
FDJ come to this race with a strong trio of riders. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig has finished in the top-10 at 3 Women’s WorldTour races this season, peaking with 3rd at Alfredo Binda. She was 6th in 2019’s Amstel Gold and whilst the flat finish may prevent her from winning, she should be up there. Marta Cavalli has made the top-10 in 2 WWT races herself. She was impressive in finishing 6th at the Tour of Flanders and could be particularly useful in the final sprint. She doesn’t have a result of note yet here. Emilia Fahlin finished 8th at Brabantse Pijl. She also has a pair of top-10s in the 2021 WWT and has unfinished business at Amstel Gold. She looked good and almost joined the front two riders on the Cauberg in 2019. An unfortunate mechanical put paid to that opportunity and she finished 15th. She could surprise here.
The winner of Gent Wevelgem this year, Marianne Vos hasn’t won the Amstel Gold Race. Despite 3 victories at the similar Holland Hills Classic, her best result in this Valkenburg race is 3rd in 2019. The in-form Vos we’ve seen this season is definitely capable of sitting in the wheels and then smoking the competition in the final sprint. Her team will have to make sure she’s not neutralised like she was at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda. Her teammate Riejanne Markus is another option after finishing 4th here in 2018. She only has a single top-20 finish so far this season though.
Liv Racing have a number of potential options. Soraya Paladin was 5th in 2019 and has been in good form in 2021 so far. She took 5th at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, part of the group that wasn’t able to catch Elisa Longo Borghini. Sofia Bertizzolo was an impressive 8th in the same race and was 13th in 2018’s Amstel Gold Race. There are doubts however, as she wasn’t able to take part in Brabantse Pijl this week. The pair of Sabrina Stultiens and Pauliena Rooijakkers are great climbers but don’t have a result of note yet at Amstel Gold. They both did well though at Brabantse Pijl this week, finishing 13th and 10th respectively for their best results of the year so far.
Annemiek van Vleuten will be a favourite but the flat finish means she either has to do it alone or not take a better sprinter to the finish with her. She’s been on the podium here twice in 2019 and 2017 without reaching the top step. The way she won both Dwars Door Vlaanderen and the Tour of Flanders is encouraging but the peloton will be wise to her. Teammate Leah Thomas was given the opportunity at Brabantse Pijl and repaid the chance by finishing 4th. She’s a great lieutenant to Van Vleuten and could come into play if anything happens to the star rider.
Once upon a time, you’d have said this race was too hilly for Grace Brown to do really well in. However, her burst onto the Classics scene continued with a 3rd place at the Tour of Flanders recently. The winner of De Panne cannot be ruled out, particularly if she’s able to get some daylight between herself and the peloton. Teammate Amanda Spratt is preparing for the Ardennes hills and looking to improve on a season’s best result of 12th at Strade Bianche. She’s the rider on the team with the best result at Amstel Gold, finishing 3rd in 2018.
Heading into this season with a tonne of hype Liane Lippert hasn’t hit the form of 2020 as yet. He best result of the year was 12th at Gent Wevelgem. She was originally on the list for Brabantse Pijl but ultimately ended up not racing it. It could be a sign that she needed more rest before this race. Lorena Wiebes has replaced Liane Lippert.
Teammate Floortje Mackaij took 7th at Dwars Door Vlaanderen as she began to show the form we know she’s capable of. This isn’t one of her best races though traditionally, with a best finish of only 26th place in 2018.
TIBCO’s pair Lauren Stephens and Kristen Faulkner have made people take notice of the team again in 2021. Lauren Stephens was impressive in the classics at the end of the 2020 season and has carried that into this year. She was 10th at Gent Wevelgem and in the top-20 at both Alfredo Binda and Brabantse Pijl. Her teammate Faulkner has been arguably even more impressive. Her best finish was 4th at GP Oetingen, before beating Stephens with 7th at Gent Wevelgem and then 10th at the Tour of Flanders. It will be interesting to see how both get on in Valkenburg with their easy to make out yellow helmets.
Elisa Balsamo was 10th in 2019’s Amstel Gold Race and it feels like she’s begun to really push on a rider this season. She won GP Oetingen and has been visible at the front of almost every race since. She didn’t quite have the legs at the end of Brabantse Pijl, finishing 3rd. That matched her result at Scheldeprijs and there have been more top-10s at Gent Wevelgem, De Panne and Trofeo Alfredo Binda. The question for her here is how will she fare on these longer climbs?
Ceratizit have a couple of wildcards to play in Lizzy Banks and Erica Magnaldi. Neither will be considered a big favourite but on the right day, we could see Banks repeat her near-winning performance from last season’s GP de Plouay. It’ll require some luck and taking the right opportunity to disappear down the road for her. Erica Magaldi should be able to sit-in and tackle the climbs. She was 19th at Trofeo Alfredo Binda, finishing in the main bunch behind the escaped group at the front of the race. You can see a similar result for her here, a lack of sprint preventing her from finishing higher.
A.R. Monex’s Arlenis Sierra was visible towards the front of Brabantse Pijl as the team worked to try and close the gap to the leaders. Ultimately it didn’t work but she was able to finish 15th. She was also 15th at Gent Wevelgem and her best result of the year was 6th at Scheldeprijs. Sierra finished 2018’s Amstel Gold Race just outside the top-10 in 11th. She needs a calm race with less accelerations on the climbs to get a great result but the flat finish will suit her if she’s up there.
Women’s Amstel Gold Race 2021 Outsiders
A.R Monex’s Maria Novolodskaya is developing into a solid all-rounder. Still finding her feet a bit in the European peloton, she’s quietly finished in the top-20 at both Gent Wevelgem and Scheldeprijs this season. Her best results continue to be in the Turkish races where she climbs better than most of the competition there. She’s got the potential here to reach the top-20 or more again. She’s also 2nd in the WorldTour Youth rankings. Parkhotel Valkenburg’s Mischa Bredewold is probably their best bet in their home race. She made people take notice with her 25th at the Tour of Flanders which saw her take the maximum 6 points available in the WWT Youth competition. With no Emma Norsgaard here, it’s a chance for these two riders to close the gap in the rankings.
The only SD Worx rider to not be mentioned in the main contenders section can’t be written off either. Niamh Fisher-Black was 25th at Brabantse Pijl, her best result of the season so far. She will have no problem negotiating all of the climbs around Valkenburg but no doubt will be policing moves rather than making them herself. Team DSM’s Coryn Rivera made her first start of the season this week at Brabantse Pijl and finished 38th. She will probably find herself working for others but she’s the rider with the best result at Amstel Gold. No other DSM rider has a top-10 finish here, whereas Rivera was 6th back in 2017. Provided she gets over the climbs, she’s the team’s best option in a sprint for the line.
Finally, TIBCO’s Sarah Gigante continues to do well in her first full European season. She nearly broke into the top-10 for the first time at Dwars Door Vlaanderen – finishing 11th. She was fixture in the peloton at Brabantse Pijl this week too, finishing 32nd. In theory, the climbs here will not be a problem. However, the flat finish may limit a higher placing.
Annemiek van Vleuten