- Amstel Gold Race
Infobox Cycling race
name = Amstel Gold Race
The peloton during the 2006 Amstel Gold Race
date = Mid to late-April
region = Limburg, Netherlands
english = Amstel Gold Race
localnames = Amstel Gold Race nl icon
discipline = Road race
competition = UCI ProTour
type = One-day race
organiser = Amstel Gold Race Foundation
director = Leo van Vliet
first = 1966
number = 42 (as of 2007)
firstwinner = flagicon|FRA
mostwins = flagicon|NED
Jan Raas(5 times)
mostrecent = flagicon|ITA
Damiano CunegoThe Amstel Gold Race is a road bicycle raceheld (mostly) in the southern part of the province of Limburg, The Netherlands. It is held every spring. From 2005 it has been part of the UCI ProTour. Before that it was part of the UCI Road World Cup.
The name does not directly refer to the river
Amstel, which is far away from the course, but to the sponsor, the Amstel brewery.
The first race, on
April 30 1966, was organised by two Dutch sports promoters, Ton Vissersand Herman Krott, who together ran a company called Inter Sport.
Vissers was a house decorator and hockey player from
Rotterdamwhose break in cycling came in 1963 when a friend asked him to manage a minor team in the Tour of Holland. Those who were there say he was as hopeless as his riders. Officials banished him after he did a U-turn and drove back towards the oncoming race after hearing that one of his riders had punctured. Three years later, in 1966, he became manager of the Willem II professional team that at one time included the classics winner, Rik van Looyof Belgium.
Krott's background in cycling was scarcely deeper. He ran a car-parts dealership called HeKro and, because he admired the Dutch rider
Peter Post, worked as his personal assistant. He had also worked as a salesman for Amstel. Together, Krott and Vissers organised small races across the Netherlands. Krott also used his contacts at Amstel to start an Amstel professional team and then the sponsorship to run an international professional race bigger than the round-the-houses events Inter Sport had been promoting until then.
The first Amstel Gold Race was announced for
April 30, 1966, the national day of the Netherlands. The plan was to start from Amsterdamand follow a 280km loop round the east of the country before finishing in the south-east at Maastricht. There would be prizes of 10,000 guilders - about €5,000 - of which a fifth would go to the winner.
Things started going wrong from the beginning. Krott and Vissers had announced the start, the finish and the distance without taking into account the many rivers and the zigzags needed to cross them. The course would be far longer than 280km. Further plans were made to start in
Utrecht, then in Rotterdam. The finish was moved from Maastricht to the unknown village of Meerssen. Less than three weeks before the start, the organisers realised they had not obtained permission to cross the Moerdijkbridge, the only way out of Rotterdam to the south. The route had again to be redrawn and the start moved to Bredain the south.
The problems had not ended. Whatever the police thought of the constant changes they were asked to approve, they now had bigger concerns. The
Provos, militant hippies, had declared Holland a state of anarchy. At the other end of the social scale, Dutchmen were also protesting against the marriage of the queen's daughter, Beatrix, to a German, Claus von Amsberg. The police feared that a race organised on the royal family's big day would bring uprisings and possibly attacks.
On April 26, Vissers and Krott called off their race. But still there was a twist. A press conference to break the news had just started when the Dutch roads ministry in
The Haguecalled to say the race could be run after all - provided it was never again scheduled for Koninginnedag.
The race was run, there were no serious protests, and the conditions set by the roads minister lost their significance. The Amstel Gold Race has never started in Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Utrecht and it never again started in Breda. The finish was moved to Maastricht from 1992 and after 1998 the race also started there.
Inter Sport ceased trading in 1970 and Herman Krott ran the race by himself until 1995. It was then taken over by the former professional
Leo van Vliet.
As is not unusual for road cycling races, the course has changed many times over the years. In 2005 the race took place almost entirely within the boundaries of the province of Limburg, but there have also been editions that covered significant parts of
Belgium. Since 2003 the finish is at the top of the Cauberghill, in the Valkenburg municipality. Before 2003 the finish used to be in Maastricht.
The race is the Netherland's largest professional race but is frequently criticised for the danger of its course. The Netherlands is a densely populated country and the race runs through many suburbs and villages. With pressure on land being so great, many Dutch houses do not have garages and cars are left parked in the street. There are also many traffic-calming obstacles such as pinches, chicanes and speed humps, and further obstacles such as roundabouts and traffic islands.
The course is tough and selective, mainly because of the 31 hills that have to be climbed, some with angles as steep as 20% (
Keutenberg). The Amstel can be confusing for first time riders, because the course features a lot turns, plus some spots are visited more than one time during the race.
* 2008 - flagathlete|
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Danilo Di Luca|ITA
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Adri van der Poel|NED
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Eric van Lancker|BEL
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Arie den Hartog|NED
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* Graat, John (April 16, 2005). "De Gold Race is allang geen 'poenkoers' meer". Trouw (newspaper), p. 21.
* [http://www.amstelgoldrace.nl/ Official site]
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