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“It’s a race that I indeed look forward to. I rode it last year and it’s a very cool race, if you ask me. I think I can do a good result if I hit the day and I have a role on the team where I can try."

Photo: Tinkoff-Saxo

AMSTEL GOLD RACE

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CHRIS ANKER SØRENSEN

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EVGENI PETROV

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JESPER HANSEN

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MANUEL BOARO

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MICHAEL VALGREN

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ROBERT KISERLOVSKI

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ROMAN KREUZIGER

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15.04.2015 @ 19:22 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tinkoff-Saxo swaps cobbles for climbs, as the team takes on Amstel Gold Race, the first of three Ardennes Classics, notorious for its 34 steep bergs and over 4,000 altitude meters along the 258km, obstacle-laden route in Limburg. Michael Valgren and Roman Kreuziger lead Tinkoff-Saxo in a challenging attempt to repeat the team victory from 2013.
 
Heading into the Dutch World Tour classic, Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Sean Yates elaborates on the team ambitions.
 
“We are going to Amstel with a good lineup. We aim to be active, show the team colors and initiate our race strategy and then we’ll see how it materializes during the race, where you constantly have to be on your toes. We have Kreuziger, who is a previous winner, however he’s primarily targeting Liège-Bastogne-Liège. But the guy I actually think the race suits the most is Michael Valgren. So it will be a big occasion for him to step up”, says Sean Yates.
 
Tinkoff-Saxo’s lineup for Amstel Gold Race is Roman Kreuziger, Michael Valgren, Manuele Boaro, Ivan Rovny, Jesper Hansen, Evgeny Petrov, Robert Kiserlovski and Chris Anker Sørensen.

“We will naturally be ready for a move like when Roman won in 2013, but the decisive moment is the last time up Cauberg, where Valgren has the capacity to go hard for a short while and that’s what it’s all about in Amstel combined with a constant awareness of positioning in the pack. For Valgren, maybe this year is a bit too early against the likes of Rodriguez and Gilbert but he has power and he will receive support from the rest of the guys, who will make sure that him and Roman conserve as much energy as possible”, adds Sean Yates.
 
The young Danish champion Michael Valgren has proved capable in the undulating terrain of the Ardennes winning the U23-edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège twice. But he notes that the shorter climbs of Amstel Gold Race might suit him better, if he can find the race rhythm on the tricky parcours.
 
“It’s a race that I indeed look forward to. I rode it last year and it’s a very cool race, if you ask me. I think I can do a good result if I hit the day and I have a role on the team where I can try. Then I just hope that the legs are where they should be. Amstel suits me well, as I might have to drop a few kilos to be really competitive on the longer climbs of Liége. However, in Amstel you don’t get a single chance to relax and it can even be a fight to get something to eat”, comments Michael Valgren, who adds that refueling is essential on the 258km route from Maastricht to Valkenburg:
 
“You constantly have to be at the front going into the climbs, and since you face a new climb almost constantly, you have to plan and concentrate. If you have the legs but don’t refuel, you will fall short of energy before the finale”.

Amstel Gold Race is renowned and dreaded for its obstacle-filled race route, where road furniture and traffic calming measures require constant attention, as the teams and favorites fight to enter the 34 climbs like Gulpenerberg, Eyserbosweg and Cauberg in front. According to Sean Yates, it’s simply not just about the legs.
 
“It’s a race that goes a long way back, it has a good setup and atmosphere and the Dutch really like their cycling. However, they also really like their road furniture and the area around Valkenburg is known for this. The parcours is full of obstacles, which also shapes the spirit of the race, but one mistake and the race can be over”, explains Sean Yates.
 
“We simply need to be on our toes, as it’s not just a matter of having the legs. We got to focus on positioning the team at the bottom of every climb and save energy for the final burst in the finale. We are here to do our best and perform but we have to be realistic, however, it’s time for many of our riders to step up”.

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