After being first postponed and then cancelled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Amstel Gold Race men’s and women’s WorldTour events will go on as planned on April 18 but on a 17-kilometre circuit that will be closed to the public, the race organisers announced on Monday.
The races typically start in Maastricht and wind through the hills of the Limburg province before finishing just after the crest of the Cauberg in Berg en Terblijt. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) won the last editions of the race in 2019.
This year’s modified circuit will pass through Valkenburg aan de Geul, Maastricht, and Eijsden-Margraten but organisers have not given exact details of the course as they urge the public to watch on television and not travel to Limburg to watch in person.
The elite women begin at 8:30am and will race seven laps, while the men start just after the women’s finish at 12:15pm and complete 13 laps. Each lap will include climbs of the Geulhemmerberg, the Bemelerberg and the Cauberg, with the final circuit of the men’s race omitting the Cauberg.
To make up for the lack of in-person viewing, the Amstel Gold Race will be broadcast live for an extended time this year with full start-to-finish coverage of both events live on NOS.nl and NPO1.
“We are very happy with the permission from the authorities the Amstel Gold Race and the Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition can take place on Sunday April 18th,” Race director Leo van Vliet said. “Since the cancellation in October 2020, we have been busy. We have remained in close connection with governments and have been able to work out detailed plans in order for the races to take place. We are aware that much can still change in preparation for April 18th, but we thank the national and regional authorities for their support in this process. Together we are now looking positively ahead at the final plans in the run-up to the race.”
The region is under COVID-19 restrictions but the mayors of the host cities have decided to allow the race to go on under strict conditions to close the entire area around the circuit to tourists and the cycling public. No spectators will be allowed on the roadsides.
While last year when the Amstel Gold Race was to be held in October, surging COVID-19 cases in the Netherlands made organising the race impossible, this year it will take place as part of a temporary top sport exemption.
UCI President David Lappartient expressed his satisfaction on hearing the race would go forward. “On behalf of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), I would like to say how pleased we are that the Amstel Gold Race and the Amstel Gold Race Ladies are being maintained this year, after their cancellation in 2020. I would like to thank the competent Dutch authorities for their support and for finding a solution with this 17 km circuit.
“It is very important that the races on our UCI International Road Calendar, and in particular the UCI WorldTour and the UCI Women’s WorldTour, take place, with of course all the adaptations made necessary by the current pandemic context. This excellent news confirms that our sport knows how to find solutions, thanks to the collaboration of all its stakeholders, despite the difficult circumstances of the health crisis. Congratulations to Leo van Vliet and the entire organization team of the men’s and women’s Amstel Gold Race!'”