Back in 2008 it was a strong Frank Schleck attacking on the famous finishing climb of the Cauberg that dropped all the big contenders like Valverde and Rebellin with only Damiano Cunego able to follow.
The race then came down to a two man sprint and you know what happens when a Schleck sprints.
Speaking of Schlecks, Andy has also been prominent in past editions of Amstel like here in 2011 but unlike Frank he’s never made it onto the podium. This year’s Amstel was going to be a Schleck free zone with Frank suspended and Andy out of form but latest word from RadioShack is that Andy will be lining up for the race.
One man who certainly does have Amstel podium experience is Philippe Gilbert. Pictured here in last year’s race he wasn’t at his best but still attacked hard.
Back in 2010 and 2011 this was as close as the peloton got to Gilbert on the final climb of the Cauberg with Phil racing away for two great victories.
The famous Cauberg won’t be the scene of the finish this year though with the line moved to be in the same place as the 2012 Worlds – 1.8kms AFTER the Cauberg. Something Philippe Gilbert should obviously be comfortable with.
He’ll be up against a super Peter Sagan though which the new finish should suit. Last year Sagan was surprisingly beaten by Enrico Gasparatto with Sagan admitting he made a mistake with his gearing on the climb.
Before the riders get to the finish there’s the obligatory windmill to pass.
A quick trip through the fields which tends to wind and wind
In fact it winds so much that if you are up the road you don’t need the Mavic motorbike to tell you what the timegap is you can simply just look to your left or right and you’ll see the chasing peloton.
One of the contenders for victory is certainly Orica-GreenEdge’s Simon Gerrans seen here back in the ’09 race. He’s consistently finished highly at Amstel with a best result of 3rd in 2011. He’ll have to get away solo though if Sagan is still in the mix at the end.
One man who tried the solo route and almost got there last year was Oscar Freire. It was a superb late attack but the Cauberg at the end was just too much.
One other attack that stood out in the 2012 edition was that of youngsters Romain Bardet and Alex Howes. These two big young talents were in a monster breakaway and were the revelations of last year’s race.
And this is the reward for making the podium, one fine glass of the sponsor’s beer. I’m sure it tastes better from the top step of the podium though than the lower steps. Who’ll be enjoying the froth come Sunday evening? My top three as unoriginal as they are: 1) Peter Sagan, 2) Philippe Gilbert, 3) Simon Gerrans