Julian Alaphilippe, Philippe Gilbert and Niki Terpstra head up a strong Quick-Step Floors team on Sunday for Netherlands’ only World Tour race, Amstel Gold.
Quick-Step Floors’ strength in numbers has been on display on several occasions in this season’s one-day races, where the team picked up nine victories and six other podiums, and the Belgian outfit will once again line up with a roster comprising of several riders who can play an important role in the closing stages of Amstel Gold Race.
Philippe Gilbert is a four-time winner of the prestigious Dutch classic (2010, 2011, 2014, 2017), and he also won the World Championships over a course more or less similar, six years ago. This year, the experienced Belgian will be again one of the contenders, as he’ll be making his 13th outing in the Dutch Classic.
Also making the squad headlined by the defending champion are Julian Alaphilippe, a double stage victor earlier this month at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Bob Jungels, Davide Martinelli, Enric Mas – who last week celebrated the first win of his career – Pieter Serry and Ronde van Vlaanderen champion Niki Terpstra.
The 263km-long race starts from Maastricht, in the province of Limburg, and comes to a conclusion in Berg en Terblijt, taking the riders over a course which includes 35 short and punchy climbs (some with double-digit gradients), narrow and twisty roads and shifting winds which could very well spice up the day and wreak havoc long before the race hits its climax.
This year, the last part of the course has been again revamped by the organisers and could have a significant impact on the final. After avoiding the iconic Cauberg in the last kilometres of last season’s edition, they now decided to take the peloton over a new descent from the Geulhemmerberg (1000m, 6.2%), the day’s penultimate climb, which could give an advantage to the attackers, who later in the race will have also the undulating roads from the top of the Bemelerberg (900m, 4.6%) to try and foil the plans of those hoping to keep everything together.
“We are lining up with a strong squad, hoping that we can be in the mix when the race is decided and perhaps repeat last year’s success,” said Quick-Step Floors sports director Wilfried Peeters. “The final has changed again, so we will have narrower roads in the last kilometres, which can play in favor of the breakaway. Staying in front will be important as the roads make it hard to organize a chase.”
“However, it is not the race nor the route, but the riders who make the difference. Amstel is one of those races where you have to be awake at all times and there will be a lot of fighting for positions. Being in the right place at the right time makes the difference but to be there, you need not only to be smart but also to have the legs.”
Quick-Step Floors Team for Amstel Gold Race (NED) 1.UWT
Julian Alaphilippe (FRA)
Philippe Gilbert (BEL)
Bob Jungels (LUX)
Davide Martinelli (ITA)
Enric Mas (ESP)
Pieter Serry (BEL)
Niki Terpstra (NED)