Blow for Ardennes Classics after Amstel Gold Race cancelled due to rising Covid-19 infection rates

Marc Hirschi [Sunweb] and Anna van der Breggen [Boels-Dolmans] took victory in the men’s and women’s editions of La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, the latter for the sixth consecutive year. But cycling’s rescheduled Ardennes Classics received a blow with the UCI announcing the cancellation of Amstel Gold Race on October 10 due to rising Covid-19 infection rates.

The Ardennes Classics is the collective name given to three races which traditionally take place in mid-April in the Belgian Ardennes and southern Limburg in the Netherlands: Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. 

The first of those managed to take place on Wednesday. Van der Breggen, riding in the rainbow stripes following her victory in the women’s road world championships in Imola at the weekend, beat Denmark’s Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig [FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope] and fellow Dutchwoman Demi Vollering [Team Parkhotel Valkenburg] on the final ascent of the infamous Mur de Huy to win the women’s race for a sixth consecutive year. Britain’s Lizzie Deignan [Trek-Segafredo] was fourth.

In the men’s race, Hirschi followed up his outstanding Tour de France and world championships performances with a brilliant victory but only after 21-year-old Mauri Vansevenant [Deceuninck – Quick-Step], riding in his first World Tour race and out in front on his own, crashed at speed with 4km to go as he looked to pull off an improbable win. The youngster was able to get back on his bike but was swiftly swallowed up by the bunch, with Hirschi winning the battle up the Mur de Huy from Benoit Cosneyfroy [AG2R La Mondiale] and Michael Woods [(EF Pro Cycling].

Hirschi’s victory comes after winning a stage on his maiden Tour de France, followed by a third place finish at the UCI Road World Championships in the men’s road race on Sunday.

This weekend will feature the men and women tackle Liège–Bastogne–Liège but there will be no running of Amstel Gold Race this year. Following the cancellation of the Dutch stages of the Binckbank Tour this week, Wednesday’s announcement that Amstel Gold, which takes place in the Limburg region of the Netherlands, was also being cancelled came as no surprise.

“In the current health context linked to Covid-19 and following the measures taken by the Dutch authorities, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) regrets to announce that the 2020 Amstel Gold Race and the 2020 Amstel Gold Race Ladies have been cancelled at the request of their organiser,” read a statement from cycling’s world governing body. “The two events, featuring respectively on the UCI WorldTour and UCI Women’s WorldTour calendars, were scheduled to take place on 10 October.”

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