The Amstel Gold Race will be the largest Dutch one-day sports event in corona time that can take place on Sunday. The organization had to pull out all the stops to allow the race to take place without an audience. The entertainment will really have to come from the riders.
It is a new course. The Amstel Gold Race in this special ‘corona edition’ does not consist of the usual route of 260 kilometers criss-crossing the hills of South Limburg, but of a closed course of 16.9 kilometers between Valkenburg and Maastricht. In each round, the riders will encounter three climbs: the Cauberg, Geulhemmerberg and Bemelerberg. The women complete seven rounds, the men thirteen. The last lap has a slightly different route, without the Cauberg.
There is a big difference with Belgium. The picture will be very different on Sunday from the Belgian cycling races of the last weeks. There the public was kept out on the hills and cobblestone sections, but in other places there were often a lot of people to encourage the riders.
Spectators are really not welcome. The Gold Race could only take place if the organization could guarantee that there will be no audience along the route. That is why there are three so-called control disputes. In the outer shell, all traffic is stopped and only local traffic is allowed to continue. An extra control check is done in the second layer. The third layer is the course itself. Only people who work for the Gold Race are allowed to pass here. They must undergo a pcr test no later than three days in advance and are subjected to a corona rapid test during the course.
And what about the local residents? About 4,500 people live within the closed area, mainly in the village of Berg en Terblijt. They are not allowed to look along the route, but may be able to enter ‘the outside world’. There are three places in the course where traffic can pass.
The 16.9 kilometer long circuit of the Amstel Gold Race.
A thousand people literally live on the trail and are given a wristband. On presentation of the wristband, they are allowed to walk along the route to, for example, go to the supermarket. They also have the privilege of being the only spectators of the 55th edition of the largest Dutch cycling race. After all, the organization and the police cannot prohibit people from looking at the passing riders in their garden or from a bedroom window. For example, the Amstel Gold Race will not be quite the ‘Amstel ghost race’. The local residents must adhere to the applicable corona rules and are not allowed to invite more than one guest home.
The organization hardly received any complaints. All these strict measures to keep the course going were generally well received by the local residents. “You always have a few critical people, but the vast majority are happy that the competition can continue,” says Roy Packbier of the organization. “We shouldn’t have thought that the race should have been canceled again, just like last year.”
The rest of the Netherlands watches TV. Normally, the Gold Race attracts about 250,000 cycling enthusiasts to South Limburg. To ensure that the audience does not secretly approach the race, the race is broadcast live in its entirety. The start of the women’s race can only be seen on the NOS website. The final and then the full men’s race will be broadcast on TV from 11 a.m.
Favorites men’s race Amstel Gold Race
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Wout van Aert (Bel), Julian Alaphilippe (Fra), Primoz Roglic (Slo)
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Greg Van Avermaet (Bel), Jakob Fuglsang (Den), Marc Hirschi (Zwi)
- ⭐⭐⭐ Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol), Wout Poels (Ned) Alejandro Valverde (Spa)
- ⭐⭐ Tao Geoghegan Hart (Gbr), Søren Kragh Andersen (Den), Thomas Pidcock (GBr)
- ⭐ Tiesj Benoot (Bel), Michael Valgren (Den), Sep Vanmarcke (Bel)
Favorites women’s race Amstel Gold Race
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned), Anna van der Breggen (Ned), Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita)
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐Marianne Vos (Ned), Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol), Elisa Balsamo (Ita)
- ⭐⭐⭐ Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Ned), Cecile Uttrup Ludwig (Den), Ruth Winder (USA)
- ⭐⭐ Demi Vollering (Ned), Grace Brown (Aus), Liane Lippert (Ger)
- ⭐ Floortje Mackaij (Ned), Marlen Reusser (Zwi), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Fra)