Amstel Gold Race: a Frenchman wants to prevent the announced coronation of van der Poel

Victorious at the Flèche Brabançonne, Benoît Cosnefroy hopes to move on to the Amstel Gold Race where he will have a lot to do with the favorite Mathieu van der Poel.

Amstel Gold Race: a Frenchman wants to prevent the announced coronation of van der Poel

Victorious at the Flèche Brabançonne, Benoît Cosnefroy hopes to move on to the Amstel Gold Race where he will have a lot to do with the favorite Mathieu van der Poel.

With Paris-Roubaix last week, the Flandriennes chapter closed and now the time has come to begin its Ardennes side with a triptych which starts this Sunday at the Amstel Gold Race on the land of Mathieu van der Poel . If the latter presents himself, once again, as the immense favorite, the French hope to be able to thwart the announced coronation of the darling of Dutch cycling. “On the Amstel Gold Race then Liège-Bastogne-Liège, there will be a lot of competitors. Opponents perhaps fresher than me and who climb better than I do,” believes the Dutchman.

This is the case of Benoît Cosnefroy. The Decathlon-AG2R puncher gained ground this spring by overcoming a form of curse that has accompanied him in recent years. After four consecutive podiums, including the frustrating one in 2020 when, in the lead, he was overtaken 50m from the finish, he was finally able to raise his arms as a winner at the Flèche Brabançonne. A good omen before putting the wheels back on the Dutch Classic that he knows well.

Indeed, in 2022, he failed narrowly against the Pole Michal Kwiatkowski. An experience which has hardened him and confirms that he has a chance to play in this corner of the Netherlands, even more so with his current form. “I tell myself it’s possible,” he admits, pointing to the course as an ally that makes the Amstel Gold Race less easy to control and more prone to disorderly movements.

This playground could also please another French person. “Repeated efforts and wear and tear could suit me (…) I have always liked bumps,” admits Kevin Vauquelin in L’Equipe. The Arkéa-B runner

If the ambition of the Tricolores is legitimate, reality will test it hard because van der Poel will be at the start. At home, the King of the North looks back on the race which revealed him to the general public in 2019. "This victory is one that I will never forget. The scenario left its mark, and what's more it was my first real big victory on the road. These are moments that we must cherish,” recalls the world champion. Five years ago, he surprised the competition and took advantage of a mark at the front of the race, to snatch victory by coming back from nowhere.

A notable first to which he would like to follow up. “The fact of having also finished fourth in 2022 proves that this race in Limburg suits me particularly well. It’s a bit like a mini Tour of Flanders, with lots of turns and steep climbs, but without the cobbles,” analyzes van der Poel about this route bristling with 33 bergs.

On this tailor-made route, the local will be able to rely as much on the exceptional dynamic which escorts him and his team this season, as well as on a strong collective (Vermeersch, Kragh Andersen, Hermans), entirely devoted to its cause. At 29, the winner of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix is ​​tackling new terrain, the realm of punchers-climbers where the French also intend to express themselves and shine, in the absence of several big names like Roglic, Pogacar and Evenepoel.

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