With the cobbled classics complete and spring in full swing we move into the Ardennes Classics carrying excitement for Amstel Gold this Easter Sunday.
La Flèche Wallonne follows mid-week and Liège–Bastogne–Liège closes out the trifecta of brutally hilly races over the course of only eight days.
Alex Howes (Cannondale-Drapac) looks to build off a strong 2016 Ardennes campaign and appears to be in strong form after winning the mountains classification at the recently completed Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
At the 2016 Amstel Gold Race, he finished 32nd and only 34 seconds behind winner Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty – Groupe Gobert) and improved his placing only a few days later, taking 21st just 12 seconds back of 2016 Liège – Bastogne – Liège winner Wout Poels (Team Sky).
At La Flèche Wallonne, Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) will want to better his 35th place at last year’s 80th edition. He was less than 30 seconds outside of the top ten and looks to have finally completely recovered from his brutal crash at Vuelta al Pais Vasco in 2015.
Riding for his new Dimension Data squad, Ben King should be on the start line for Amstel Gold this weekend as well. He’ll look to improve on last year’s Ardennes Classics results, which saw him retire early from Liège – Bastogne – Liège and finish outside the top 100 at both Amstel and La Flèche Wallonne. Having completed four stages races already in this early season, he looks well prepared for the week ahead and Dimension Data will be hungry for a result after a rather quiet season so far.
Amstel Gold Race takes place Sunday, April 16, followed by La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, April 19 and the Ardennes Classics concluded on Sunday, April 23 with the 103rd Liège – Bastogne – Liège.
An American hasn’t won an Ardennes Classic since Tyler Hamilton (Team CSC) took the victory at Liège – Bastogne – Liège in 2003 over Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) and Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) on a wet day at the end of April that year.