The world of cycling turns its attention from the cobblestone classics to those of the hilly Ardennes region this weekend. The first one is Amstel Gold Race and Cannondale Pro Cycling Team is looking forward to a good result.
Tom-Jelte Slagter will lead the American based team while Toms Skujins and Nathan Brown will make their classics debuts. Slagter has a favorable history in the Ardennes classics as he has finished in the top 10 at both Flèche Wallonne (5th in 2014, 9th in 2015) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (6th in 2014).
The Dutchman also finished ninth in Brabantse Pijl earlier this week so he is taking a good form into Amstel and the rest of the Ardennes Classics.
“They are so long and super hard,” Slagter said of the upcoming races. “For me personally the climbs are perfect and I like the type of roads we race on. I really enjoy racing in this area.
The Ardennes Classics favor riders with climbing prowess as opposed to the cobbled races which favored raw power. Cannondale`s Sport Director agrees with this change:
“It’s almost like a season shift within the season” said Charly Wegelius. “This is the first time you see these kinds of climbs come into the one day races. It’s a really exciting week.”
One rider who is particularly excited about Sunday`s race is debutante Toms Skujins:
“I’ll be up against big boys. I’ve prepared the best I can and these races are the ones I aspire to do really well in and hopefully to podium in later in my career,” Skujins said.
“These are the special one-days that everyone knows about and everyone watches. On the start line everyone is in the same situation. You get one chance, one shot at glory and you
better make the best out of it — that’s the beauty of one days. They are aggressive, unpredictable and much less scripted then stage racing. It’s what I live for.”
Cannondale Pro Cycling line-up for Amstel Gold Race: Alberto Bettiol, Nathan Brown, Simon Clarke, Alex Howes, Benjamin King, Kristijan Koren, Toms Skujins, Tom-Jelte Slagter
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