Amstel Gold Race 2024: Can defending champion Demi Vollering recapture her winning form?

The Dutch national champion dominated the Ardennes Classics races last year, but her form so far this year suggests that a repeat could more difficult than expected

In 2023, Demi Vollering firmly announced herself as the Women’s WorldTour’s best rider. Overall, she topped the charts with 17 wins to her name, including Strade Bianche Donne, the Tour de France Femmes, and the complete Ardennes hat-trick. The Dutch rider was on fire, an unstoppable winning machine, putting on dominant display after dominant display. 

The first of her Adrennes wins was at the Amstel Gold Race having already taken winning podiums on the white roads in Tuscany and Dwars door Vlaanderen. She won Amstel Gold Race after a perfectly time attack on the Cauberg, 1.7km from the line, that saw her cross the finish eight seconds ahead of her teammate Lotte Kopecky, who came second. She followed this up with a five-second win atop La Flèche Wallonne’s famous Mur de Huy, and then completed the elusive triple by winning in a sprint between herself and Lidl-Trek’s Elisa Longo Borghini. 

Achieving such a feat is an enormous accomplishment, but retaining the title is even harder, especially as SD Worx-Protime haven’t looked as dominant as they did last season. Vollering herself hasn’t even looked to be in the same form as she was this time last year. On top of this, other teams have become wise in how to beat SD Worx, in particular Lidl-Trek, who are proving to be a force to be reckoned with. 

While SD Worx have secured themselves several wins, none of them have yet come from Vollering. Her results so far are sixth at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, third at Strade Bianche Donne, 96th at Dwars door Vlaanderen, eighth at the Tour of Flanders and second at De Brabantse Pijl. While these are still brilliant results for any rider, in comparison to last year, where she already had two first-place finishes, two second-place finishes and one 17th place, it leaves us questioning whether she will be able to repeat history by securing the Ardennes hat-trick for a second year.

Demi Vollering celebrating her 2023 Liège-Bastogne-Liège win, competing the Ardennes hat-trick (Image by 

Vollering herself has even noticed a lack of wins so far this year, saying in an interview with GCN ahead of Flanders that “it feels a bit strange, because last year I had already two wins by now, and also yesterday [Dwars door Vlaanderen] was a pretty big change for me – from being number one in that race to chasing to the last group.” 

The 27-year-old has followed the same preparation in the lead-up to the Adrennes this year with a block of training at altitude post-Strade Bianche with Dwars door Vlaanderen, the Tour of Flanders, De Brabantse Pijl and then hopefully peaking for Amstel Gold. She added in the interview: “For the last four years I have always done an altitude block directly after Strade, and I really like it because normally the Ardennes are really a goal for me, so that’s what I’m focusing on and that’s a perfect place for an altitude block.” 

At the recent De Brabantse Pijl, Vollering did put in an impressive performance and it seemed her form had fully returned, evenly matching Longo Borghini up until the final climb, where the Italian attacked and to much surprise, Vollering could not hold on to the wheel, finishing 41 seconds behind the Lidl-Trek rider

We've seen the prowess she has as a climber with an explosive kick and there is no doubt that on her best day, Vollering would easily be able to take the win in the fine form she did last year. But it is not so much a question of form anymore for the SD Worx rider, but the formidable strength Lidl-Trek are showing. 

Lidl-Trek are bringing a strong team to the Ardennes with 2024 Tour of Flanders winner Elisa Longo Borghini, as well as the impressive Shirin van Anrooij. This duo have proven to work extremely well together, evident in both Opening Weekend’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Flanders. Elisa Longo Borghini is also in the form of her life at the moment and after her third win of the season at Brabantse Pijl, she’ll be feeling very confident going into the Ardennes, where she’ll be targeting Liège-Bastogne-Liège and supporting Van Anrooij for Amstel Gold and Gaia Realini at La Flèche Wallonne. 

Elisa Longo Borghini and Kasia Niewiadoma in the 2024 Tour of Flanders (Image by Eloise Mavian/

At Amstel Gold, Visma-Lease a Bike also will start with a strong contender in Marianne Vos. The 36-year-old rider has looked in great form so far this season, taking two wins already. She has won this race previously in 2021 and while the race hilly parcours may not be suited to her strengths entirely, if the race comes down to a small group sprint, she’ll be a real contender for a second victory. The same could be said for 2019 winner Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM), who has looked stronger with each race, in particular the Tour of Flanders where she clinched second. She is strong, punchy and if she can attack at the right moment or come to the line with a small select group of riders, she could certainly put a stop to the first win in Vollering’s hat-trick repeat.

However, SD Worx are also bringing a powerful team and could provide an option for any outcome if Vollering’s plan A does not go accordingly, be that a long-range attack (Mischa Bredewold), bunch sprint (Lorena Wiebes), or a select group (Lotte Kopecky). They are still the most dominant team in the peloton, but this season, we haven’t seen quite the same harmonious domination as last year. This may be down to the recent announcement that Vollering will be leaving the team at the end of the season, which may be hanging heavy over the team’s heads, especially with the way it was unexpectedly announced before Flanders last week. Even without realising it, this uncertainty could be impacting the team’s results. 

But as we go into the first race of the Ardennes Classics, it is certainly set to be a showdown between SD Worx and Lidl-Trek. After such domination last season, it must be frustrating for the Dutch squad, but it certainly makes for exciting viewing. A repeat of Vollering’s hat-trick hangs in the balance. 

*Cover image by Eloise Mavian/

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