One of three one-day races in the Netherlands for the women’s peloton, Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition is a different prospect to the Flandrian classics, as the racing moves away from the cobbles. Instead, the peloton faces numerous bergs, with the race favouring the climbers over the sprinters. It takes place on Sunday April 10th 2022.
The women ride the eighth edition of the race in 2022. They begin in Maastricht, before heading out across the Limburg province of the Netherlands, an area which contrary to expectation, is far from flat. It is a pre-cursor to the Ardennes classics which follow a few weeks later.
They ride a distance of 127.5km, tackling 19 climbs along the way. The repetitive climbing will begin to drain the legs of the riders as the days wear on. In addition to the bergs, the peloton must contend with narrow country roads and awkward corners, along with a largely urban parcours with frequent roundabouts and road furniture. These features often cause crashes and the riders will need to stay alert throughout to avoid disaster.
The race hits the Cauberg for the first of four ascents, after 72.8km of climbing through the Limburg hills. A notorious climb, the Cauberg is 800m in length at an average gradient of 6.5%, the percentage topping out at 12.8%.
After that, the peloton will begin a circuit which the riders will complete three times, taking in three more ascents of the Cauberg, and three ascents of the Bemelerberg and Geulhemmerberg, amongst others, along the way. It’s likely we’ll see a gradual whittling down of the peloton as the circuits are completed.
Following the final ascent of the Cauberg, the riders face a short run-in – just 1.6km – to the finish line in Valkenburg. This endows the final climb with even greater significance, as riders will look to use it as a launchpad for a race-winning attack.
Following a series of races that have been decided by sprint finishes, Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition should finally provide a chance for the climbers among the women’s peloton to wrest back control. Five Dutch women have won from eight editions overall, including most recently, Marianne Vos, who has forgone the chance to go for back-to-back victories on home turf by skipping the race to prepare for Paris-Roubaix.
Movistar will be led by Annemiek van Vleuten, who will hope to improve upon her 2021 performance in which she was beaten to the line by the power of Vos. She has been selective over her choice of race days this season, so expect her to be fresh and hungry for a win.
Like both Vos and Van Vleuten, Demi Vollering has restricted her race days so far this season, so she will hope to make an impact on the race. It suits her skillset and along with Van Vleuten and Vos, was on last year’s podium. Her SDWorx squad includes veteran climber Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, young multi-disciplinarian Blanka Vas, and another former winner, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, all of whom may challenge for the win depending on the team plan on the day.
Kasia Niewiadoma always performs well at Amstel Gold Race. She won in 2019 and was in the final selection last year, and she will fancy her chances once more. Her Canyon-SRAM team mate Elise Chabbey will offer the team another option. FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope have struggled so far this season with tactical decision-making. If they can remain in contention, Marta Cavalli could be capable of making the final selection.
Of the smaller teams, Human Powered Health have been a revelation this season. Always willing to go on the attack to open up races, American youngster Katie Clouse may be keen to have a shot. Another young rider who should find herself well-matched to the demands of the Limburg parcours is Team Coop-Hitec Products’ Josie Nelson. The British rider, who was runner-up at the National Championships, enjoys short sharp climbs and may look to be involved with the big hitters if she is feeling good.
The women’s champion will be a rider with a point to prove, not just at this race, where she was third last year, but this season, where she has already lost out once on a big race day, to Lotte Kopecky at Strade Bianche Donne. For those reasons, Annemiek van Vleuten is our pick for the winner of Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition.