Kwiatkowski focused on success in the Ardennes
Former world champ is well rested
Eurosport 1, 2pm Sunday
After spending the last three weeks battling it out over the cobbles of Flanders and northern France, the peloton moves west this week to the forests and rolling hills of the Ardennes.
Amstel Gold marks the start of three races in seven days for the riders with La Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday and the fourth Monument of the season, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, next Sunday.
Organisers of the 52nd edition of Amstel Gold have tinkered with the route this year. The decisive Cauberg ascent will be climbed three times instead of four, with a flat finish bringing the sprinters into contention should they hang on to the bunch over the arduous 260km route.
That’s not to say this has become a race for the pure sprinters. The rolling terrain ensures any protagonist must be able to climb so it is still a race to focus on Classics specialists.
It seems a one-day race doesn’t pass by this season without Greg van Avermaet being in contention. The Olympic road-race champion is in the form of his life and while it would be folly to dismiss his claims, his hectic campaign could leave him vulnerable to a fresher rider.
Former world champion Michal Kwiatkowski swerved the Flanders Classics in favour of targeting this week’s races and could reap the rewards.
The Pole, who will lead Team Sky’s challenge, has already claimed one-day successes in the Strade Bianche and the prestigious Milan-San Remo this season, outsprinting Peter Sagan in San Remo. He warmed up for the race with three top-ten finishes at last week’s Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
On five previous Amstel Gold attempts Kwiatkowski has finished inside the first five three times, claiming victory two years ago.
Quick Step-Floors have their usual arsenal of challengers with Tour of Flanders winner Philippe Gilbert their main hope. However, at a bigger price Petr Vakoc could excel for the Belgian outfit.
Vakoc has had a quiet year but showed he is in decent shape with a second place on Wednesday at De Brabantse Pijl, a race he won in 2016.
2pts each-way 10-1 general
0.5pt each-way 33-1 general