1) The Amstel Gold Race was won 18 times by a Dutchman
The most recent was of course Mathieu van der Poel in 2019, and that of Boogerd against Armstrong from 1999 is also etched in our memory. Other Dutchmen who won: Father Adrie van der Poel, Frans Maassen, Gerrie Knettemann, Steven Rooks, Joop Zoetemelk, Jelle Nijdam and Erik Dekker. Between Dekker’s victory in 2001 and that of MVDP in 2019, there were 17 editions in which the Netherlands was dry.
2) Six riders won the Amstel more than once
The name of Jan Raas also belongs in the above list of winners. He won the Gold Race no fewer than five times. From 1977 to 1980 he was the strongest four times in a row, in 1981 one Bernard Hinault took the win, but in 1982 Raas won again. The course was nicknamed Amstel Gold Raas.
In addition to Raas, Philippe Gilbert (4x), Eddy Merckx (2x), Gerrie Knetemann (2x), Rolf Järmann (2x) and Enrico Gasparotto (2x) also won the race more than once.
3) Breda was the first starting place of the Amstel Gold Race
Nowadays we know the Amstel Gold Race as a course of twists and turns in the hills of South Limburg, but that was not always the case. During the first edition in 1966, the drivers started in Breda. After that, four years in a row started in Helmond, before the start was also moved to Limburg – from 1971 to 1997 in Heerlen and then Maastricht.
4) The first idea was to cycle from Amsterdam to Maastricht
So it was Breda, but the idea of the Amstel Gold Race was to cycle from Amsterdam to Maastricht. The inventor of the race, Herman Krott (also race director until 1995), had good ties with Amstel, originally an Amsterdam beer brand. However, it turned out to be logistically impossible and so it was Breda.
5) Eight editions of the AGR for women have been held so far
The first edition of the Amstel Gold Race for women was held in 2001 and had a Dutch winner in Debby Mansveld. The edition of the following year was also won by a Dutchman: Leontien van Moorsel. In 2003 Britain’s Nicole Cooke won the race.
Whether that foreign victory has anything to do with it, we do not know, but the fact is that the race was no longer organized for 14 years. Until 2017, when Anna van der Breggen resumed the Dutch winning streak. Chantal Blaak won in 2018; the following year the Polish Katarzyna Niewiadoma.
And sure enough, no Gold Race again the following year! But now of course because of corona. Two years ago the women raced again so this time it remained with a gap of one year – Marianne Vos won. Last year a non-Dutch won with Marta Cavalli, but he is again this year
6) In 2001, the continuation of the Amstel was hanging by a thread, just like in 2021
And also then because of a pandemic, but then one in animals. The Amstel Gold Race fell in the middle of the FMD crisis that year. A loop through Belgium was canceled and there were extremely strict regulations, such as disinfecting bicycles, following cars and motorcycles. So Erik Dekker almost didn’t win…
7) The beer Amstel Gold is no longer brewed
The race was named in 1966 after a golden blond specialty beer with the appropriate name Amstel Gold. Although specialty beers have become very popular in recent years, Amstel Gold has taken the opposite route: from 2015, the beer will no longer be brewed.
Would be nice to watch the course again with an Amstel Gold on the lips. So, go Amstel, let’s brew again!
Image: Cor Vos