After much rumour organisers have confirmed the re-introduction of an Amstel Gold Race for women for the first time since 2003.
Like the men’s race, also to be held on April 16th 2017, the 125 km women’s event will start in Maastricht, looping through the hilly Dutch province of Limburg, before finishing after the famous ascent of the Cauberg.
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However, unlike the men, the Ladies Edition, as it has been called, will will cover just one local lap, the route climbing out of Valkenburg up the Cauburg just twice.
Though it is yet to be confirmed, organisers have applied to the UCI for the event to be included in the 2017 Women’s WorldTour, the calendar of which is due to be announced after the UCI World Championships later this month.
While the men’s competition has been running since 1966, a women’s event ran for three years from 2001, with Britain’s Nicole Cooke most recent winner in 2003. Leontien van Moorsel, winner of the event in 2002, has been announced as race director.
Recently the Boels Rental Ladies Tour, a six stage largely flat race in the Netherlands, has used Limburg as its decisive stage, the finish being in Valkenburg at the top of the Cauburg. It was also used in the 2012 World Championships where Marianne Vos won the second of her three road world title and Britain’s Lucy Garner won her second consecutive junior rainbow jersey.
In addition to Amstel Gold there have been rumours of a women’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the two of which would go with the long established Flèche Wallonne Femmes to make a women’s version of Ardennes Week. The creation of these new races, however, has caused the displacement of other established events in the women’s calendar.
In 2016 the UCI 2.1 ranked Euskal Emakumeen Bira, a four stage race in the Basque country, moved to April to allow for the Amgen Tour of California. It now seems that it will be forced to move again to accommodate Amstel Gold.
Last week the 1.1 ranked Dwars door de Westhoek revealed it may have to discontinue as it had been unable to find an alternate date after the Belgian federation asked it to move to accommodate a women’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Despite this, Vos welcomed the addition of Amstel Gold to the women’s calendar.
“The Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition is another very big step in the recognition and the professionalisation of women’s cycling,” she said. “Dutch female cyclists are doing a very good job internationally, but there is nothing more beautiful than cycling a spectacular track for a big enthusiastic crowd in your own country.”
There race will be televised as part of the coverage of the men’s event which runs concurrently.