Milan-San Remo winner Vincenzo Nibali is included in a strong Bahrain Merida line-up for Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race. Also included in the team are Sonny Colbrelli, Grega Bole, Enrico Gasparotto, Gorka Izagirre, Ion Izagirre and Franco Pellizotti.
The 53rd edition of Amstel Gold Race which starts in Maastricht and finishes after over 260 kilometres in the nearby Vilt-Valkenberg features a new finale. After tackling the Geulhemmerberg ascent, the riders will face a very narrow descent before climbing the Bemelerberg, but once again they will follow that up with a different and undulating route to the finishing kilometre.
“It’s a more complicated end,” explained Bahrain Merida Directeur Sportif Rik Verbrugghe, “the road is very small and certainly those who pass first on the Cauberg will try to attack immediately downhill. For the rest, I expect the usual very stressful competition for a race that I consider a mix between the Ronde and the Liège: there are no cobbles, but the climbs are much longer and harder.”
“We really have a very competitive team, starting from Vincenzo Nibali and the brothers Gorka and Ion Izagirre without forgetting Sonny Colbrelli and Enrico Gasparotto. We have more solutions and we will see during the race how it will be better to move, of course the guys are very motivated and they all come from good performances.”
Enrico Gasparotto, twice winner in 2012 and 2016, also feels ready: “I expect the usual very open race. This year, the Cauberg is much closer to the finish line and the presence of Peter Sagan will make itself felt in the race. Personally, the race I did two days ago has confirmed that I’m in a good shape and that the work I did during the 13 days training camp at Teide has already given good results.”
Following on from his second place at De Brabantse Pijl, Sonny Colbrelli wants to repeat his top ten of last year at Amstel Gold: “There are all the ingredients to make a good Amstel: morale is high, the shape is growing and we have a great team. I think the race will get inflamed at less than 50km from the finish when the best start fighting. And we will be there.”
Team Bahrain Merida line-up for Amstel Gold Race: