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The spring cycling season keeps rolling with the three big races making up Ardennes week: Amstel Gold (today), La Flèche Wallone, and ending in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, close to 800 km of racing over seven days. The races feature some of the great hills of the Benelux region: Cauberg, Gemmelberg, the @AaronWebsteyberg
, and many other bergs, and many Côtes in the French areas. In fact, today's Amstel Gold race features something like 22 unique bergs of it's own. If you are trying to look knowledgeable about pro cycling, you can scramble pretty much and sequence of letters, add the suffix -berg, pronounce it with a bad Flemmish accent, and ask if anyone saw how many watts the pros put out going up that hill.
The interesting thing about Ardennes week is that you see a mix of Classics riders like GVA, Terpstra, and Gilbert facing off against guys that typically win Grand Tours or week-long races, like Kwiatkowski, Valverde and Nibali. Valverde has dominated Flèche in recent years - he has won the last four - and usually shows well at L-B-L as well.
My picks for Amstel today, since they have continued the course change introduced last year that moved a couple of decisive hills away from the finish: Someone from Bahrain-Meridia (who are stacked today), Albasini, or Alaphilippe. Sentimental favourite: Cunego, in his last major race before retirement. The little prince has won Amstel (in 2008), and while he is not free of scandal, he was fun to watch in his prime - small, fast climber, with a surprisingly effective sprint.