Amstel Gold Race awards final two wildcards
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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Amstel Gold Race awards final two wildcards

by Ben Atkins at 12:05 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Amstel Gold Race
Europcar and Rusvelo given the nod ahead of those invited in 2011

amstel gold raceThe Amstel Gold Race has announced the award of its final two wildcard invitations for the 2012 race, with Professional Continental teams Europcar and RusVelo getting the nod. The two final names brings the list of teams for the race, which will be run on April 15th between Maastricht and the top of the Cauberg, in Valkenburg, Netherlands, up to 24.

As a race in the International Cycling Union (UCI) flagship WorldTour, the Amstel Gold is required to invite all 18 first division ProTeams; two weeks ago it announced that Dutch team Project 1T4i, along with three Belgians Accent Jobs-Willems Verandas, Landbouwkrediet-Euphony, and Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator had been awarded four of the wildcards; and that two more would be announced at a later date.

Despite being one hundred percent Russian in its rider roster, RusVelo has a far more west European team management; it has been able to use the presence of former Netherlands team coach – and Garmin-Cervélo women’s directeur sportif – Egon van Kessel, Dutch former mountain jersey winner Gert-Jan Theunisse, and Dutch-Australian former rider Henk Vogels to secure a spot in the race for the young, largely inexperienced team.

As well as a roster of riders that includes Tour de France heroes Thomas Voeckler and Pierre Rolland – the former of which has expressed a desire to perform well in the Ardennes classics – Europcar general manager Jean-René Bernadeau is as familiar as any with the Cauberg finish. The Frenchman took the bronze medal in the controversial finish to the 1979 World championship road race, behind Dutchman Jan Raas and German Didi Thurau, after an incident with Raas put Italian favourite Giovanni Battaglin into the barriers.

Coincidentally, Thurau’s 23-year-old son Björn is a first-year pro with Bernadeau’s Europcar team.

The award of the final two invitations leaves 2011 invitees Cofidis and Farnese Vini-Selle Italia out in the cold. The last two editions of the race have been won by current Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert (then Omega Pharma-Lotto, now BMC Racing), with last year’s race as the first in an incredible Ardennes treble.

Amstel Gold Race 2012 invited teams:

AG2R La Mondiale
Astana Pro Team
BMC Racing Team
GreenEdge Cycling Team
Katusha Team
Lampre - ISD
Lotto Belisol Team
Movistar Team
Omega Pharma-Quick Step
Rabobank Cycling Team
Sky Pro Cycling
Team Saxo Bank
Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team

Professional Continental teams:
Accent Jobs-Willems Verandas
Project 1T4i
Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator


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