On Sunday, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka takes on the first of the Ardennes Classics, Amstel Gold Race.
From the start in the city of Maastricht, 261 km await the peloton in the province of Limburg with no less than 35 short climbs to overcome. The main attraction of the Dutch one-day race is the infamous Cauberg climb. Despite its length of only 800 meters, the average gradient of 12 % means this ascent is not to be taken lightly.
Usually, the race finishes shortly after cresting Cauberg. This year however, the organizers have changed the final part of the course, meaning that there are now 16 km to go after the riders cross the finishing line for the third time. This final lap isn’t completely flat though. On narrow and twisty roads, the peloton still has to overcome first Geulhemmerberg (1 km / avg. 5.8 %) and then Bemelerberg (900 m / avg. 7 %) before taking on the last 5 km of the race.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka lines up with a very motivated team led by Nathan Haas who showed great shape in the Ardennes warm-up race Brabantse Pijl earlier this week. For support, the strong Australian can rely on Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Ben King, Serge Pauwels, Youcef Reguigui, Johann Van Zyl, Jaco Venter and Kristian Sbaragli who too is in very good shape at the moment.
Oli Cookson – sports director:
“The plan for the race is to look after Nathan [Haas]. We want to put him in the best possible position for the final. However, due to the changes in the racecourse, I think we may see the favorites open up earlier than usual, as we have seen in the previous races this year. We need to be ready to react to that. We know that Nathan can do a good race and that Kristian [Sbaragli] has good legs as well. We are going to use our assets the best we can”.