Date: Sunday April 16, 2023
Start: Maastricht, Netherlands
Finish: Berg en Terblijt, Netherlands
Distance: 253km (men), 158km (women)
Defending champion: Michał Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers), Marta Cavalli (FDJ-SUEZ)
The Amstel Gold Race marks a turning point in the WorldTour calendar – the cobbled Classics riders are replaced with sprinters and climbers as this race marks the start of the Ardennes Classics. Held in the province of Limburg in the Netherlands, the peloton twists through the rolling countryside on narrow roads, taking in the region's short but punchy climbs.
The race was created by Dutch sports promoters Ton Visser and Herman Krott, who ran a company called Inter Sport. Their dream was to create a Dutch race that was able to compete with the other iconic Classics such as the Tour of Flanders. The first race took place in 1966 with Dutch beer brewery Amstel the title sponsor, and it has remained ever since. Only one edition has been missed, which was in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Taking place in the middle of the cobbled Classics and the Ardennes Classics, the Amstel Gold Race found it hard to establish itself in the cycling calendar when it first began, struggling to entice the biggest stars in the sport. However, having firmly made its mark as one of the Netherlands most anticipated sporting events, the race sees the world’s best cyclists line up on the start line. The Amstel Gold Race is now considered the opening race of Ardennes Week, despite not being part of the Ardennes, and was granted UCI WorldTour status in 2011.
The first ever Dutch winner was Arie den Hartog, who won the second edition in 1967. Success on home soil has been a running theme throughout the history of the race, with the race won 18 times by a Dutch rider. This is closely followed by the Belgian riders, who have taken victory 14 times.
Jan Raas holds the title for the most wins at Amstel Gold, having won five times in 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1982. This is followed by Philippe Gilbert, who has won on four occasions with the most recent win in 2017. Only a handful of riders have one the Classic more than once, and they include Eddy Merckx, Gerrie Knetemann, Rolf Järmann, Enrico Gasparotto, and the defending champion Michał Kwiatkowski.
Last year came down to a photo finish (Image by Getty Images)
The men’s 2023 Amstel Gold Race teams list:
- AG2R Citroën Team
- Astana Qazaqstan Team
- EF Education-EasyPost
- Ineos Grenadiers
- Jayco Alula
- Soudal - Quick-Step
- Team Arkéa-Samsic
- Team DSM
- UAE Team Emirates
- Tudor Pro Cycling Team
- Bingoal WB
- Lotto dstny
- Israel-Premier Tech
- Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
- Team Flanders-Baloise
- Team Corratec
- Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team
The men’s 2023 Amstel Gold Race route:
This year’s Amstel Gold Race route rolls out from Maastricht and heads north. A race known for its twists, turns and steep climbs, the race sets the tone from the start, and after just 12km of riding, the peloton face their first of 33 climbs.
Men's 2023 route (Image by Amstel Gold Race)
The route then heads back south and loops the hilly region of Limburg, going from one climb to the next in quick succession – some of them featuring double digit gradients. The most notable climbs come in the second half of the race, with the Cauberg, Keutenberg and Eyserbosweg. Keutenberg has the most eye-watering ascent, with a 22% gradient to the top. No time for the riders to recover, shortly after the brutal ascent, they are down and back climbing up the Cauberg.
In the last few kilometres as the peloton heads to the final, they’ll take in two short climbs, one which is 1km in length at a 4.5%, and another at 4.5% for 900 metres. The final challenge before the finish is making their way safely through the Franse Steeg, before hitting the wide finale.
Amstel Gold Women’s Race
Taking place on the same day as the men’s, the only difference for the women is the distance at 156km. The women’s peloton still rolls out from Maastricht and finishes in Berg en Terblijt in Valkenburg.
First taking place in 2001, there were three editions of the women’s race until 2003. They would roll out 30 minutes after the men, but this caused some issues on the irregular route, and the women’s race was later cancelled. However, after a 14-year hiatus, the women’s Amstel Gold Race returned to the Netherlands. With no race for 14 years and one missing edition due to Covid, this year’s race will be the ninth edition.
No rider has won the women’s Amstel Gold Race more than once, but with previous winners returning to the race this year, there is plenty of opportunity for a rider to write history. On the race’s honours list is Anna van der Breggen, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Kasia Niewiadoma, Marianne Vos and Marta Cavalli.
Marta Cavalli celebrating her victory with the title sponsors (Image by Getty Images)
Women’s Amstel Gold Race team list
- SD Worx
- Human Powered Health
- Lifeplus Wahoo
- AG Insurance - Soudal Quick-Step
- Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
- Cofidis Women Team
- CERATIZIT-WNT Pro Cycling
- Team DSM
- Jayco Alula
- Liv Racing TeqFind
- Israel Premier Tech Roland
- Team Coop - Hitec Products
Women’s Amstel Gold Race route
Similar to the men’s, the women roll out of Maastricht and head north up to the outskirts of Sittard. They will then head back north towards Simpelveld, taking in the constant succession of the most brutal climbs in the Limburg countryside.
This year the race is 28km longer than the 2022 edition and features a total of 21 climbs. With a tougher, longer course, the race is set to showcase the best riders who can pack a punch on an undulating course.
The 2023 route includes the famous Cauberg climb. Despite being only 800 metres in length, its average gradient sits at 6.5% and peaks in the double digits at 12.8%. Tackling this punchy climb is tough enough on one occasion, but the ascent is included four times in the route, with the final time 2km from the end – a decisive moment in the women’s race.