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2. The route

2. The route

Defending champion Roman Kreuziger leads strong field for first Ardennes Classic

After the success of the 2013 edition, which Kreuziger won after a much-changed finale, organisers have decided to stick with their winning formula.

Once again the race will not end at the summit of the Cauberg, but past it, further down the road, by which point the riders will have climbed 34 hills and raced nearly 250km.

The first climb, the Slingerberg, comes after 9.4km of racing, and is 900m in length with ramps touching 9.5 per cent in gradient.

The Gulperberg is one of the chief climbs  of the Amstel Gold Race (pic: Sirotti)
The Gulpenberg is one of the 34 climbs of the Amstel Gold Race (Pic: Sirotti)

The race begins properly as the peloton hits hill five – the first ascent of the Sibbergrubbe in Valkenberg, which is followed almost immediately by the first ascent of the short, sharp climb of the Cauberg.

The race then moves onto the the first, and longest, of three punchy, twisting circuits, with the 4.4km Camerig – at an average gradient of four per cent – and the first ascent of the Gulpenerberg, which has steep pitches up to 13.9 per cent, among the highlights.

The riders hit the Sibbergrubbe for the second time at 158.2km, again followed almost immediately by the Cauberg – the 22nd climb of the race.

Riders who remain in the leading group will be put under scrutiny with ascents of the Gulpenberg, Kruisberg, Eyserboseg and Fromberg, all within an 11km stretch. The Eyserboseg touches 17 per cent in parts, while the Kruisberg averages 8.8 per cent, before a third ascent of the Cauberg with the final circuit and 21.1km of racing to come.

The third circuit takes in the Geulhemmerberg and the Bemelerberg before returning to the Cauberg for a final showdown to decide the champion.

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John Degenkolb, Giant-Shimano, Niki Terpstra, Omega Pharma-Quickstep, Fabian Cancellara, Trek Factory Racing, podium, Paris-Roubaix 2014, pic: ©Sirotti

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