After 14 long years, the Amstel Gold Race will make its triumphant return to the women’s racing schedule this weekend as part of the Ardennes Classics. With the Classics also introducing the first ever women’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the 20th edition of La Flèche Wallonne Feminine – it seems like the dream time to be a female cyclist.
With that in mind, we sat down with Commonwealth road race champion, Boels-Dolmans team rider and Cycleplan ambassador, Lizzie Deignan, to get her views on the season’s first big test.
Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada
So, Lizzie, the Amstel Gold Race. Why do you think it’s taken so long to make a return?
I’m not sure, to be honest. The women’s race side is younger than the men’s and gets less of the spotlight – so that could be one reason.
But to be fair, the serious questions about why there isn’t a women’s Amstel Gold Race (and others) have only gained momentum in the last few years. For the organisers to listen and introduce one in that short time is a good thing overall, I think.
After the third-place finish at Flanders, what are you aiming for from Amstel and the Ardennes Classics?
All three races are huge for us, but particularly the Amstel Gold Race, since it’s held in South Holland where our main team sponsor – Domans – is based. The pressure to perform is enormous, but as a team it’s the opportunity to win an iconic race that we haven’t had the chance to before.
All eyes will naturally be on World Tour leader Coryn Rivera, but are there any other riders we should be looking out for?
I’d keep an eye on Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) – she’s going really well at the moment and we’re moving into climbing races which will suit her style.
Katarzyna Niewiadoma (WM3 Energie) as well, a young Polish rider, she’s really good. I think in Baston-Liege she’ll have a real opportunity. The climbs are quite a bit longer than others we’ve raced so far and she’s a real climber.
I think those two will be our main rivals.
Finally, there has been plenty of discussion in the cycling world about the need for a women’s Paris Roubaix. Would you agree it’s long overdue, and would you take part if it happened?
Yes, definitely. It would be ideal if we could have the iconic men’s races replicated in women’s cycling as well. Everyone wants those big race days on the world stage – and I must admit a little jealousy when I can’t do that. Although if I did end up having to race the Paris Roubaix I might end up feeling differently, as it’s a tough race!
Thanks Lizzie, good luck in the Amstel Gold Race!
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