2021 Amstel Gold

Marc Hirschi, Michael Valgren, Among Five Underdogs At Amstel Gold

Marc Hirschi, Michael Valgren, Among Five Underdogs At Amstel Gold

The Amstel Gold Race can play out a number of ways, and there are many riders with a shot at victory. These are five of the top outsiders with a chance.

Apr 14, 2021 by Rebecca Reza
Marc Hirschi, Michael Valgren, Among Five Underdogs At Amstel Gold

The Ardennes Classics get underway this Sunday, April 18th, with the return of Amstel Gold. The dramatic change to the route this year due to Covid-19 restrictions have further expanded the prospects for who will be crowned as the next champion. 

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The race attracts both Classic specialists and general classification contenders alike for the first of three hilly one-day showdowns. Read on to see the riders FloBikes has picked with an outside chance at victory this Sunday. 

Esteban Chaves (Team BikeExchange)

Esteban Chaves is a debutant this year at Amstel Gold. The Colombian arrives in the Netherlands following a striking stage win at the Volta a Catalunya, which netted him both the mountains and points classification jerseys. The victory on the summit finish was his first in two years, holding off top contenders including Richard Carapaz (INEOS), and Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation). It was also the first win for the team under the new BikeExchange sponsors. 

Chaves will have Michael Matthews alongside him, who knows the terrain well and has two top-ten finishes in the Flemish Classics this season. Don't rule out the Colombian climber on the hilly Dutch circuit.


Michael Valgren (EF Education First Nippo)

Lining up for his 7th participation at Amstel Gold, Valgren knows the roads well, having won in 2018 while riding for Astana.  His new EF Education Nippo team has notched two wins so far this season, including a stage win at Paris-Nice with fellow Dane Magnus Cort who is also expected at the start. 

Valgren was unable to replicate the success of his 2018 season after transferring to NTT Pro Cycling. Valgren has more than proven himself capable of winning spring classics. Will his transfer to EF give him the push he needs to once again crack open a podium lager in the Dutch classic? 


Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates) 

It was in the 2020 Tour de France where Marc Hirschi rode into the spotlight and in the Ardennes where he cemented himself as a star, winning La Flèche Wallone and finishing second at Liège – Bastogne – Liège. 

The Swiss rider's abrupt transfer to UAE Team Emirates sent shock waves through the cycling world at the end of 2020 and he has thus far been quiet in 2021. 

After spending some days training at altitude in Spain, he made his season debut at the Volta a Catalunya with his early season goals set on the Ardennes Classics. Hirschi will find a strong ally in Matteo Trentin, another new signing for UAE Team Emirates. Will one of these riders give UAE their first classics victory of 2021?

Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 

The climbing phenom delayed his season debut this year, opting for an extended stay at home with family in the high mountains of Ecuador, before crossing overseas to race the Volta a Catalunya. He has shown sparks of his climbing strength but has yet to display his top form that won him the Giro d’Italia in 2019. 

Carapaz joins many of his rivals as a debutant at Amstel Gold on Sunday, in his quest for another successful Tour de France later this summer. Should he find himself in the mix for the win, he will be a strong second or third option for an impressive line-up for the team, including neo-pro Tom Pidcock.  


Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 

Wellens has enjoyed a strong start to his season, despite top results eluding him. His teammate and four-time winner of Amstel Gold, Philippe Gilbert, would have been the leader for Lotto Soudal, but is currently sidelined citing fatigue. 

Gilbert's absence will give Wellens full leadership this Sunday. 2021 will be his 7th participation in the Dutch classic. A sixth place finish in 2018 is his best result on record.