The Amstel Gold Race has been held since 1966 and is the only one-day UCI WorldTour race staged in the Netherlands. It traditionally marks the turning point of the spring Classics, with the climbers and stage racers replacing the cobbled Classics riders as the favourites. The 2015 Amstel Gold Race is its 50th edition.
While the Netherlands is known for its flat, wind-affected roads, the 250km Amstel Gold Race route finishes on the top of the Cauberg climb in the southern Valkenberg region close to Maastricht. The route twists and turns through the countryside on narrow country lanes that divide the rolling fields of the Limburg region.
There are more than 30 short climbs along the route which increasingly hurt riders’ legs as the race progresses. Consequently, only the strongest can compete for final victory on the Cauberg climb. 25 climbs are covered during the last 165 kilometres of the race, with eight coming in the final 45 kilometres. The riders have little time to recover from each effort, meaning only the strongest and fittest have a chance of victory. Team tactics and race knowledge also play a vital part in deciding the winner of the Amstel Gold Race.
Whoever wants to win the Amstel Gold Race needs a late burst of speed and power on the Cauberg climb. Go too soon and other riders can follow and launch their own attacks, go too late and the winner will be uncatchable. Only one rider gets to raise a glass of Amstel beer on the podium as the winner of the race.
In 2014 Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), who hails from the nearby Wallonia region of Belgium, won the Amstel Gold Race for a third time after 2010 and 2011. Only legendary Dutch rider Jan Raas has more victories to his name, having won five times, in 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1982. Raas also won the road race at the 1979 UCI Road World Championships in front of his home fans, while Gilbert won the 2012 world title, also in Valkenberg, after another solo attack over the top of the Cauberg. Both know that the Cauberg is the key to success.