Australian Michael Matthews told Dutch publication WielerFlits he wants to be a more attacking racer, starting with tomorrow night's Amstel Gold race, streaming here and broadcast on SBS Viceland. 

Matthews' declaration comes in response to Philippe Gilbert's criticism of his "waiting" at De Brabantse Pijl where the Australian finished 11th ahead of Gilbert in 15th.   

Colbrelli the victor of De Brabantse Pijl
With the peloton fast approaching behind, Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida) outsmarted his breakaway companions to win the 57th De Brabantse Pijl.

Bling dismissed the Belgian's criticism.

"It's easy for Gilbert to talk, he had three teammates in the escape and then some in the peloton. I had to do everything alone and I knew when he attacked I had to follow. If I left, he would come behind me and stay in my wheel. So I did not have any options."

And yet it seemed the newly crowned Tour of Flanders champion may have touched a nerve or two, the Canberran saying he wanted to vary his tactics.

"I'd love to be an attacking rider like van Avermaet or Gilbert. Change some ingrained habits and not sit and wait for the sprint."

Van Avermaet on the hunt for first Amstel podium
If you need just one reason to watch the Amstel Gold Race on 16 April, it’s embodied in the presence of Greg van Avermaet, the hottest rider on the planet today.

Matthews has derived confidence from his stage win at the Tour of Basque country two weeks ago, his first win in nine months and the first for his new team. There he was supported by a sick Simon Geschke, but for Amstel Gold will also count on Wilco Kelderman.

Matthews also told WielerFlits the absence of the Cauberg in the finale is unlikely to change the race.

"I don't think it'll change the race too much, honestly. It is interesting (though) because nobody knows what's going to happen and where to attack.

"Of course it's also possible everyone else is waiting for it. But I want to make it a hard race."

 

Saturday 15 Apr 2017

After winning every stage race he has started this year plus a couple of stage wins and a one day race victory thrown in for good measure, it's hard to bet against the ever youthful Alejandro Valverde for Amstel Gold on Sunday.

He's also godlike in Ardennes week with seven wins combined at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Fleche Wallone. 

But the Spaniard's never won Amstel Gold and according to him, he won't win it this year either.  

"It’s a worse route for me," Valverde said in an interview with Cyclingnews.

"There won’t be such a harsh selection process as when it finished on top of the Cauberg or just beyond it. It’s still a hard race now, but it’s not so demanding."

Would you bet against him?

Movistar's roster for Amstel Gold:

Alejandro Valverde
Marc Soler
Rory Sutherland
Imanol Erviti
Dani Moreno
Jesús Herrada
Carlos Betancur
José Joaquín Roja

The Australian registered squad will take along a tasty line-up to this year's Amstel Gold with not only Simon Gerrans and his three, third places but 2013 winner Roman Kreuziger.

Add in-form Michael Albasini with his stage two win at the recent Tour of the Basque country and Daryl Impey and his stage six win at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunyai in March and Orica-Scott looks formidable on paper.

But sport director Matt White knows this year's course throws up somewhat of an unknown for his team. 

"Sometimes new courses do create surprises," Orica-Scott sport director said. "But without the Cauberg in the final, it gives guys 20 kilometres of recovery and a lot more time to come back." 

"Climbers will have to move 30 to 50 kilometres from the finish to have any say in the race but even then you would anticipate sprinters' teams having numbers to play with.

"The big guys will be forced to do something a long way out or we will see the biggest group we have ever seen sprint for the victory." 

Jens Keukeleire, Mathew Hayman, Michael Hepburn and Chris Juul-Jensen round-out the line up and add depth for White. 

"This is one of the best teams we have put together for this race and we have people to play is whatever scenario is thrown up," White added. 

It's no surprise "King of the Cauberg" and three-time Amstel Gold winner (2010,2011,2014) Philippe Gilbert will headline the Quickstep-Floors team at this year's edition of the race. 

And while the Cauberg won't feature in the finale, the peloton will still climb it three times plus 32 other short, punchy bergs on the 261 kilometre long course. 

In his own hot form after a first Tour of Flanders victory, the Belgian takes with him a strong line-up.

Runner-up at this year's Paris Roubaix, Zdenek Stybar will join fellow Czech Petr Vakoc fresh from his second place at the Ardennes warm-up race, De Brabantse Pijl.

The team will also feature Daniel Martin, 2013 Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner and Gianluca Brambilla no stranger to hard one day races as well as 2017 Tirreno-Adriatico young jersey winner Bob Jungels. 

The full roster: 

Gianluca Brambilla (ITA)
Dries Devenyns (BEL)
Philippe Gilbert (BEL)
Bob Jungels (LUX)
Daniel Martin (IRL)
Maximilian Schachmann (GER)
Zdenek Stybar (CZE)
Petr Vakoc (CZE)

Gracie Elvin will look to build on her Tour of Flanders second place in tomorrow night's 121 kilometre Amstel Gold race, back on the Women's WorldTour calendar after a 14-year absence.

Dutchie Annemiek van Vleuten and Australian national champion Katrin Garfoot also add options to the line-up, not discounting the depth Sarah Roy and Amanda Spratt will also bring.

“We come into this race with multiple options and we are aiming for a podium spot on Sunday,” said sport director Gene Bates. "We will look for a tough race, and I think with the finishing circuits will allow for this to happen quite naturally. Of course we are expecting a hard race with not that many left at the finish, I think that would suit us well.”

“The team has had a great spring so far and we are keen to see this form and momentum roll into the Ardennes next week. One good thing for us is that we have multiple riders who are capable of a podium here, so we are not hamstrung by one in form rider.”

“Obviously there are some strong riders out there, and certainly it won’t be an easy race, but we are ready to put a great race together and deliver our best result.”

Orica-Scott Amstel Gold roster:

Jenelle Crooks
Gracie Elvin
Katrin Garfoot
Sarah Roy
Amanda Spratt
Annemiek van Vleuten

Live coverage of the women's race streams online tomorrow night from 9.25pm here

Polish team CCC SprandiPolkowice will race Amstel Gold tomorrow despite losing 18 bikes in a burglary on Thursday night. 

"It happened on a guarded parking lot in front of our hotel in Valkenburg," said sport director Piotr Wadecki.

"All 18 bikes and spare wheels were stolen, despite the fact that the truck was equipped with a car alarm and the door was blocked by another team car, parked right in front of it. We don’t know how the burglars managed to go around the security system. 

"Currently we are working on bringing training bikes to the Netherlands, so the riders can race on Sunday," he said. 

This year's race will be the team's fourth in a row with Maciej Paterski's ninth place in 2015 its best result so far. Despite this setback, the team hopes to place riders in a break and protect Paterski.