Flat finish to the first of the Ardennes Classics in 2017
The organisers of the Amstel Gold Race have made drastic change to the race route for 2017, with the decisive Cauberg climb removed from the race’s finale.
The Cauberg climb has played a vital role in the race since it was introduced to the finale of the race in 2003, and although the race finish will remain in the same place in 2017, the Cauberg will be climbed for the last time with 19km to go.
However there will still be a hilly finale to the race, with a final circuit containing the climbs of the Geulhemmerberg and the Bemelerberg, before a flat finishing sprint.
Speaking to Sporza, race organiser Leo Van Vliet said that he hoped for a more open and attacking race, with riders often biding their time in previous editions and waiting for the final charge up the Cauberg.
“By removing the last climb of the Cauberg we hope for a more open race, where there will be more contenders and the attackers get more chances.”
This is the latest in a long history of changes to the route of the relatively young Ardennes Classic, which was first run in 1966.
Between 1991 and 2002 the race finished in the Limburg provincial capital of Maastricht, with a flat finish at the end of a hilly race.
However in 2003 the finish was moved to the top of the 1,200m, 5.8 per cent Cauberg, which climbs out of the town of Valkenburg.
In 2012 the World Championships were held in Valkenburg with the finish moved to 1.2km after the top of the climb, a change that was copied in the 2013 edition of Amstel Gold.