The Amstel Gold Race normally signals the start of the Ardennes Classics and the climbers come out of the woodwork. Raced over the hills, dales, and forests of south eastern Holland, the course selects its own worthy winner. Twenty-five years ago it was Mauro Gianetti who was making the news.
By our reckoning when Stefan Küng took bronze in the individual pursuit in 2013 it was Switzerland’s first pursuit medal since Robert Dill-Bundi’s pro silver some 30 years prior on his home Zürich track in 1983, but whilst that was as good as it got for the tall, precocious Swiss who never fully realised his potential, it was just the start for Küng. In Paris this year the young BMC rider from Wil became the first Swiss rider since the fabulously stylish Xavier Kurmann back in 1970 on the Leicester track in England to pull on the rainbow jersey of world individual pursuit champion.
As the Pros battle it out across Flanders, the young men who aspire to do the same in the future are locking horns in another famous name from the history of warfare – Normandy. Le Tour de Normandie is one of the premier events on the calendar for men on the way up – Viatcheslav Ekimov, Thor Hushovd and Samuel Dumoulin are among the riders who have won the race.