Amstel Gold Race director Van Vliet claims changes to route will make race a better one
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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Amstel Gold Race director Van Vliet claims changes to route will make race a better one

by VeloNation Press at 7:52 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Amstel Gold Race
Former pro says Classic will be more open as a result

Amstel Gold RaceLong known for the distinctive finish on the top of the Cauberg, a final ramp to the line which has seen many explosive battles in the final kilometre of the race, this Sunday’s edition of the Amstel Gold Race will see a modified version of that finale.

Race director Leo van Vliet announced several months ago that the race route will continue past the previous finishes and instead conclude in the same approximate location as last year’s world road race championships.

It means that the riders will have almost two kilometres of flat roads after the top of the climb, in theory giving the opportunity for a slight regrouping, and also allowing a fast-finishing rider to get an edge over those who favour climbs.

The decision has led to very mixed feelings, with some believing the race will lose some of its character. However van Vliet has argued that the new setup is a better one. “The biggest changes that we made this year is the move of the finish venue and an adjustment in the final phase of the Amstel Gold Race. The reason for these changes is that we are had the feeling that the race was ‘set.’

“The riders wait longer and longer for the finale. Making the course even tougher makes no sense; then the riders might wait even longer before the action starts.”

Van Vliet points to the worlds as an example of what he believes is a better route. Those who would argue for the old course may point out that once Philippe Gilbert got the gap on the climb, it became clear that he’d hold on to win and so the final two kilometres were devoid of suspense.

However van Vliet remains convinced that the change is for the best. He also said that other course modifications could open things up. “The final part of the race is adjusted. The riders will do an extra lap. After passing the final phase of the Cauberg they go through the new finish location to the Geulhemmerberg through Maastricht and the Bemelerberg again, heading towards Valkenburg and then onto the Cauberg again.

“More riders are now in with a chance for victory, including the Dutch riders. We hope that this way, the race will be more exiting. But of course the riders will ultimately make the race.”

In 2012 the organisers of the Ronde van Vlaanderen also implemented changes, removing iconic parts of the old course to shake things up and also to facilitate an increase in the number of VIP and corporate viewing areas.

Those changes have met with a very mixed reaction; similarly, Sunday’s race will be also judged on how things play out.


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