Women's Amstel Gold Race History
The history of the Women’s Amstel Gold Race is very much in two parts. An initial race was held between 2001-2003 (won by Nicole Cooke, Leontien van Moorsel and Debby Mansveld), reaching the highest-level Women’s World Cup set of races in its final year of that run. However, the race disappeared from the calendars thereafter until 2017 when the race was revived. It went straight back in at Women’s WorldTour level and has grown ever since. This year’s race is 28km longer than 2022 and so features more climbing, which may change up who is able to follow at the end of the race.
The Cauberg has been the crucial climb, with it coming just a few kilometres from the end and allows puncheurs the chance to either get a gap and hang on or play it cagey and try to win a small group finish. The battle between the pair of tactics has often seen frustration when a puncheur gets clear with one rider who doesn’t want to work. So far we’ve seen a fairly even split between puncheurs like Kasia Niewiadoma winning solo and say Marianne Vos beating her rivals in a sprint.
Women's Amstel Gold Race 2023 Profile
Sunday 16th April 2023
Twitter: #AGR or #AGR23 or #AmstelGoldRace or #AGRwomen
Women's Amstel Gold Race 2023 Contenders
AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step’s Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio is always a contender but her lack of a strong sprint has hampered what she can do by the finish line. If the finish was right at the top of the Cauberg it would suit her so much more. She’s still finished in the top-10 in almost every edition she’s raced and the 16th in 2019 should’ve been higher if not for a crash in the sprint for the line. A consistent top-10 finisher, it’s still tough to see a path for her to win.
Another who would love for the race to finish nearer the top of the Cauberg is Kasia Niewiadoma. She won in 2019 beating Van Vleuten in a head to head. She’s got 4 top-10 finishes at Amstel Gold Race in 5 editions and we’ll probably see the usual finish where Kasia gets clear on the Cauberg and is stymied by a rival before being outsprinted for the top places. Teammate Soraya Paladin took a pair of 5th places in 2019 & 2021 but will no doubt be working more for Kasia again this year. If she’s in a front group, she will have one of the best sprints at that point.
SD Worx will pin their hopes on Demi Vollering again this year after a pair of 2nd places in the last 2 editions of Amstel Gold Race. She’s not finished outside of the top-2 of a race since Omloop het Nieuwsblad at the end of February, a streak of 4 one-day races so far. Beaten by Silvia Persico on Wednesday, her sprint isn’t perfect currently. Teammate Lotte Kopecky has never raced Amstel Gold Race and the talk was she was going to be focusing on track after Flanders was over. In her current form, it’s very tough to rule her out of contention and if Demi Vollering is in the front group, she will be able to point at Kopecky behind who will beat all her rivals in a sprint finish. We’ll see Marlen Reusser and Mischa Bredewold go long as well in an effort to reduce the number of other teams.
Last year’s winner Marta Cavalli is still on a long road back to recovering that form after her big impact at the Tour de France Femmes. There have been flashes of getting back there, including 13th at Trofeo Alfredo Binda and 25th at the back of the main group at Brabantse Pijl this week. She seems to be hanging around the back of the groups she’s in and that is a tough position to do well from. So it might have to come down to Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig. The Dane has finished 6th in 2019 and 7th in 2021’s Amstel Gold Race and will be a threat once again. Her sprint is sneakily good these days and she could break the top-5 now. Grace Brown continues her run of finishing just outside of the top-10 in WWT races with 4 of them in her last 6 races. The Australian will no doubt be the long-range threat here.
Liv Racing Xstra’s Mavi Garcia has finished 6th in both of the previous editions of Amstel Gold Race and was visible near the front of Brabantse Pijl this week, before finishing in 20th. I’m expecting her to be in the top-10 again but it would be the lower reaches again unless she nails the Cauberg climb and gets a gap. She falls into the same sort of issues as Moolman-Pasio where they can both do well but tough to see them winning.
This is the last time that Annemiek van Vleuten will line up at Amstel Gold Race, so it’s a final opportunity to get it onto her palmares. She’s come so close in previous years with 3 podiums and a 4th place for good measure. She’s beginning to miss that absolute punch to really get a gap on the Cauberg but she’s always strong enough to be with the first few riders anyway. It’s been a relatively quiet year for her so far so this would be a strong notice ahead of the Ardennes Classics. Teammate Liane Lippert was 3rd here whilst on Team DSM last year and she’s been in good form this spring too. A podium at Brabantse Pijl this week is going to make it interesting as to who gets the shout to finish off the race here. There are also possibilities for Arlenis Sierra and Floortje Mackaij. Sierra’s best finish is 11th in 2018 and took 10th at the Tour of Flanders. She can sneak into the top-10 again here. Somehow Mackaij has never finished higher than 23rd but should be able to have a free role to attack the race this year.
With Lippert not on the team this year, it’s up to Juliette Labous and Pfeiffer Georgi to step up for Team DSM. Labous has come closest to the front in previous years at the Amstel Gold race with 11th last season. 6th at the recent Tour of Flanders is encouraging for her chances here and in the Ardennes. Georgi should definitely improve on her best finish of 43rd this year. She felt like this year’s Paris Roubaix Femmes was a missed opportunity with the break winning and Georgi only being behind Kopecky from the bunch.
13th here last season was Yara Kastelijn and she’s been a consistent threat throughout this spring. Similar to Grace Brown, the Dutch rider has been just outside of the top-10 in all of the major races but missing that slightly more impressive result so far. With the races switching to being more climbing-orientated, it should suit her that little bit more from now on.
Both Alex Manly and Kristen Faulkner of Jayco-AlUla have finished just outside of the top-10 of the women’s Amstel Gold Race. Manly has spent most of this spring working for other teammates and doesn’t really have a strong individual result since Australia for that reason. She can climb well so could be a threat in a following group sprint. Kristen Faulkner potentially has the best shot at a result. We saw at Strade Bianche that she can climb well at her pace and we might see her diesel back across to the puncheurs after the Cauberg.
Marianne Vos is racing Amstel Gold, so she will be the obvious leader for Jumbo-Visma. She won here in 2021 and podiumed in 2019, her form is looking good going into this race too. 3rd at Dwars door Vlaanderen is her best result but she has been on the attack plenty which feels like this race is the major goal. She’s got a good amount of support, including Riejanne Markus who was 4th in the 2018 edition of the women’s Amstel Gold Race. Anna Henderson is on a good run of form but with Vos here will probably be in an attacking role. Her run of 4 top-10 finishes came to an end with 13th at Brabantse Pijl. Karlijn Swinkels will do a similar role too and I’d be surprised if we didn’t see her off the front at some point.
Trek Segafredo is going to be hard to pick a leader for because of the depth they’re bringing. I guess it’s possible to go with Elisa Longo Borghini as the main shout but Lucinda Brand and Amanda Spratt both have better results over the years. Shirin van Anrooij is a strong shout after winning Trofeo Alfredo Binda and has 3 other recent top-10s and should improve on 16th from last year. Amanda Spratt has been 3rd and 4th in the past but has been quieter in recent races. It’s hard at the moment to know for sure if she’s looking ahead to GC goals or will be properly active in the Ardennes. Elisa Balsamo was 8th in last year’s women’s Amstel Gold Race and might not make the very front after the Cauberg but is going to be a huge threat in the same vein as Kopecky if the front doesn’t push home its advantage.
The winner of Brabantse Pijl, Silvia Persico will also be a contender here. Her sprint will be key here if she can make it over the Cauberg with some of the other stars. Riding the confidence from some good results recently like 6th at Trofeo Alfredo Binda, 4th at Tour of Flanders and her win this week, the Italian has a great shout.
Teammate Sofia Bertizzolo made the top-10 here last season but unfortunately is in some very poor form since crashing at Omloop van het Hageland. Hopefully, she is able to get back to what we know she is capable of soon.
Women's Amstel Gold Race 2023 Outsiders
Twice in the top-10 at Amstel Gold Race, Coryn Labecki was 9th last season but comes into this year’s edition with some average form since good results at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana in February. Her team has plenty of options and at her best Labecki is very much one of those but I can also see her getting crowded out by others in yellow and black, plus the extra climbing potentially doesn’t help this year.
A strong climber, I haven’t quite decided whether Claire Steels has the punch required to excel on the Cauberg. I can absolutely see her being up there in the results with the repeated ascents throughout the race not causing issues. 9th at Trofeo Alfredo Binda showed what she can do in tough climbing races and whilst she might do well here, I’m looking ahead to Liege-Bastogne-Liege for her best result of the Ardennes week.
The rider of the day at Brabantse Pijl was from Margot Vanpachtenbeke of Parkhotel Valkenburg. She impressed on the way to 7th place, racing at the front with some big names and secured 7th with a late strong turn to keep that front group from the clutches of the chasers. She’s only been racing for 2 years but already has a collection of good results this year in hilly/rolling races.
Another rider with a good day out at Brabantse Pijl was Ella Harris. The Kiwi finished 14th, her best result of 2023 and looks like a good shout for some more performances as we hit the hillier part of the season. She’s never raced Amstel Gold Race before but the pressure will be off a bit after a strong result mid-week.
Anouska Koster is potentially one to watch here, despite a previous best finish of only 28th set in 2021. The former Dutch national champion has been riding well in 2023 with 6th back at Omloop het Nieuwsblad, 20th at the Tour of Flanders and 16th at Brabantse Pijl. I can see her negotiating the climbs well enough to be a factor at the end of the race.