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Going for gold: Where your money should be for the Amstel Gold Race

Joe Robinson
18 Apr 2019

Cyclist picks out the best bets for Amstel Gold Race this Sunday

The Amstel Gold Race is a different beast these days to what it once was. Until 2017, the entire day centred around the Cauberg. For 260km, the peloton would tour the rolling Limburg countryside, heading up climbs, turning into narrow roads – left, right, left, before hitting the Cauberg.

It's a climb that's less than a mile long, not overly steep either, but swamped with local support on race day – mostly Dutch fans packing the roadside, urging the day's strongest riders on to the summit in pursuit of ultimate victory.

To win Amstel Gold required you to keep some bullets in the gun for the base of the Cauberg. If you had something left, you could wind it up, put down the hammer and sprint to victory. Just ask Philippe Gilbert, who did exactly that on three occasions between 2010 and 2014.

Since 2017, however, the race has been slightly different. Instead of a one-bullet gunfight out of Valkenburg, the Amstel Gold Race now culminates on the Geulhemmerberg and Bemelerberg ahead of a longer, flatter run to the line.

It has made racing more exciting. Riders go earlier, unwilling to bring a fast-finishing Peter Sagan or Greg van Avermaet to the line. The selection of the day's best riders also happens earlier. Gilbert still found a way to win regardless incidentally, and did so impressively in 2017.

The current champion is Michael Valgren, who outsprinted Roman Kreuziger in a two-up sprint having gone clear of riders such as Sagan and Alejandro Valverde in the race's closing stages.

The year before, Gilbert had backed up an impressive Tour of Flanders win a fortnight before with his fourth Amstel title, outsprinting Team Sky's Michal Kwiatkowski to the win.

This year's race will be a different prospect again, as a band of young talent enters the race in good form and looking to topple the old guard in the one-day Classics. 

Below, Cyclist looks at who the bookmakers fancy for the title and who we personally think will come out on top on Easter Sunday.

There's also a women's Amstel Gold Race this Sunday, which will no doubt produce some excellent racing. However, no bookies are offering odds on the race as yet.

Who should you be backing?

There's a quick answer to that question. It's Mathieu van der Poel. I say this because he is going to win, isn't he?

Barring disaster, such as a puncture or crash or being beamed back to the alien ship he was sent from, I don't see anybody beating the Dutch road race champion. Honestly, he looks unbeatable. This week, he beat Michael Matthews, Tim Wellens and Julian Alaphilippe at Brabantse Pijl and made it look easy.

A few weeks ago he won Dwars Door Vlaanderen. Again, he made it look very easy. He then came fourth at the Tour of Flanders despite crashing and having to chase for the peloton for the best part of an hour on his own.

Believe the hype, Van der Poel is a generational talent. 'Het fenomeen' as I've started calling him.

The bookies believe the hype, too. He is 7/2 favourite (Coral). Incredible considering it's his debut at the race yet fully justified. I'd usually say there is little value on backing such short odds but honestly, if you have the money, chuck £20 on him as you're likely to get £70 by the end of the day.

Next on the bookies' list is Julian Alaphilippe at 6/1 (Ladbrokes). He is in great form with eight victories already this season and the punchy nature of the Amstel course should suit his capabilities.

He is likely to run better at Fleche Wallonne next week but an each-way bet on Deceuninck-QuickStep's Alaphilippe is certainly still recommended.

As is an each-way flutter on his Philippe Gilbert.

The veteran rider is a four-time winner of this race. On three of those occasions, Gilbert also won a Monument in the same season – including his most recent win at Amstel in 2017.

Last weekend he won Paris-Roubaix. I wouldn't be surprised if he backed it up with a record-equalling fifth Amstel this Sunday.

Nab him at 20/1 (Betwat) while you can.

Peter Sagan and Greg van Avermaet will be looking to recover from average Cobbled Classics campaigns. Neither hit their stride throughout March and early April so will be looking to right some wrongs in the Ardennes.

Sagan is priced quite low 12/1 (Skybet) so is best avoided although Van Avermaet can currently be had at 33/1 (Bet365) which is crying out for an each-way flutter.

I also like the look of Michal Kwiatkowski at 20/1 (Skybet). A former winner and a man who just seems to deliver whatever the occasion. Also, consider Jakob Fuglsang to be in the mix. He is 28/1 (Betway) and showed excellent form at the Tour of the Basque Country last week.

Lotto-Soudal are also worth watching with Tim Wellens and Jelle Vanendert, the latter a man seemingly born for the Ardennes. They are currently 20/1 (Unibet) and 40/1 (Unibet) respectively and both worth considering.

Finally, it's always worth keeping your eye on a bolter, a true outsider who could swoop in, surprise the peloton and earn you a decent bit of dough.

For that, look at Marc Hirschi. Only 20 years old, he is the current under-23 road race World Champion. 

He is very talented and already fully settled into life in the WorldTour, riding for Team Sunweb. Tenth at E3 Harelbeke and two top-five finishes in Basque Country proved that.

Hirschi is currently 200/1 (Betway). Place an each-way on him and thank me later.

Cyclist takes no responsibility for bets placed or resulting losses. Always remember to gamble responsibly. When the fun stops, stop.

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