In the mid-sixties, the Netherlands had around twenty professional citeriums and also the Tour of Limburg and Van Zuid-Holland, but no match had the appearance of a classic. Licker -signing, cycling enthusiasts and organizers looked at Flanders where a major course was held every week. Herman Krott, the discoverer of Peter Post and Gerrie Knetemann and chef d'Equipe of the Amstel cycling team, was one of those people. He wanted to organize a Grote-Stad-Stad race, a cycling race with Allure that should eventually grow into a classic.
A sponsor had quickly found the Amsterdammer and also an appealing route: Amsterdam-Maastricht, but a 350-kilometer race was a bit too much of a good thing. The idea of cycling from Amsterdam to Rotterdam was also shot because the police did not allow the peloton to drive over the Moerdijk Bridge. Eventually at the first edition - on Queen's Day 1966 - it was decided to drive from Breda to Meerssen, a village in Heuvelland in Limburg.
At the first Amstel Gold Race, which in 1991 received the designation 'Classic Hors category', a lot went wrong. Just before the start, the National Police casually came to say that due to the village squares closed by Queen's Day parties and various diversions were placed in the course due to road works. The competition was about forty kilometers longer. Five -time Tour winner Jacques Anquetil did not care. He finally closed his brakes well before the finish and stepped: his contract stated that he had to drive 260 kilometers, not 302. Another favorite, the Frenchman Jean Stablinski, won the first episode.
Already in 1973 the most legendary Amstel Gold Race was held. Immediately after departure from the new Heerlen starting place, the peloton was plagued by strong wind, rain, snow and hail. The temperature was around the freezing point and it was actually irresponsible to cycle, but nobody dared to take the decision to cancel the course. Even winner Eddy Merckx, who, as usual without demarcating the rest, drove away, barely got through the cold more ahead. His manager was able to keep up with him at the end. Merckx begged for food, but just before the finish there was only hot tea in stock. The cannibal did not drink it, but so poured it into his shoes, over his ice -cold feet.
From the end of the 1970s, the Dutch ruled in their own country for a decade. Of the twelve, editions were held between 1977 and 1988, ten times a countryman triumphed, interrupted by victories by Phil Anderson and Bernard Hinault. During the victory of the Frenchman in 1981, the peloton did not see a hand in mind throughout the day through the dense fog. In a unique but beautiful mass sprint in South Limburg, Hinault just entered for a second time in the last hundred meters.
That year no Dutch people ended in the first three, a rarity in those years. In 1977 even the entire stage was red-white-blue with Hennie Kuiper, Gerrie Knetemann and winner Jan Raas. It was the first victory of the Zeeuw that would win five in six years. The race was therefore even called the Amstel Gold Raas for a while. The win in 1978 was a breath. Clearly visible to all television viewers, the escaped Jan Raas for a long time in the slipstream slip stream. The number two Francesco Moser was rightly furious. "I never come here again," he shouted.
For more than twenty years, foreigners have been the boss in the Limburg hills with victories of Michael Boogerd (1999) and Erik Dekker (2001) as the exceptions. Both defeated Lance Armstrong that later deleted from the result in a sprint-à-deux.
Since the latter Dutch victory, it is fortunately possible for amateurs and enthusiasts to cycle the classic one day before the pros. To feel the special character of the Amstel Gold Race: the endless turning and turning, hill on, hill off, over the narrow roads in Limburg. To notice how all the juice is pressed out of the legs in 700 meters on the Keutenberg, which is called the steepest mountain in the Netherlands with a maximum of 22% rise. The Cauberg is also not for the cat, because the final climb of the race is almost one and a half kilometers long, but the real calf biter is the Eyserbosweg that rises cozy the first six hundred meters from the picturesque Eys, but suddenly one suddenly turns the forest in turning in Knik knows more than 18%. "I don't know any other climb that is so debilitating," said Michael Boogerd. But the real enthusiast does not deter that remark from the most successful rider of recent years: the 12000 available starting places (60, 100, 125, 150, 200 or 250 km) are nowadays via the website of the organization in just over a half Hour sold out. Logical, because the only Dutch classic, who must have driven a little rider?