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The Netherlands' most important bike race, one of the Spring classics (if not yet truly of "monument" status, dating back only to 1966), run in the "Dutch mountains", the hill country of Limburg around Maastricht and Valkenburg. The race has been sponsored by the Amstel brewery since its inception, was part of the UCI's World Cup series and is now a counting event towards the UCI ProTour.

The 250 km or so course - which seems to change in detail yearly - is necessarily convoluted, hemmed in the narrow Maastricht "appendix" in the south-east of the country, a 20 km wide strip of land hemmed in by Belgian to the west and Germany to the east, although it usually crosses the border into Belgium for sometimes substantial sections of the race (the only recent exception being the 2001 edition where the border was closed because of outbreaks of foot and mouth disease). The result is a race which is surprisingly hilly, with continuous twists and turns through both leafy lanes and aggressively traffic-calmed residential streets; winners need good all-round skills. The finish was for many years in the centre of Maastricht, but was moved in 2003 to the top of the Cauberg climb near Valkenburg to make for a more exciting finale. The repeated climbs tend to make this an elimination race, with the weaker elements gradually falling away until only the strongest remain in contention for the last 40 km; early attackers rarely succeed.

The race is naturally a major target for Dutch riders and riders with Dutch sponsors, but since it obtained World Cup status the home riders have been less successful with only one win apiece for Erik Dekker and Michael Boogerd, the two leading Dutch riders of their generation, although the orange vests of the Rabobank team are always prominent. For reasons not entirely clear, the race was one of Lance Armstrong's favourites and one of the few occasions in which he appeared in serious contention in this part of the season, although he never managed better than second place.

A women's Amstel was run on the same day from 2001 to 2003, but has been dropped since, possibly because of difficulties with running two events simultaneously on the convoluted course.

Winners

men

1966 Jean Stablinski (Fra)
1967 Arie den Hartog (Ned)
1968 Harry Steevens (Ned)
1969 Guido Reybrouck (Bel)
1970 Georges Pintens (Bel)
1971 Frans Verbeeck (Bel)
1972 Walter Planckaert (Bel)
1973 Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1974 Gerrie Knetemann (Ned)
1975 Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1976 Freddie Maertens (Bel)
1977 Jan Raas (Ned)
1978 Jan Raas (Ned)
1979 Jan Raas (Ned)
1980 Jan Raas (Ned)
1981 Bernard Hinault (Fra)
1982 Jan Raas (Ned)
1983 Phil Anderson (Aus)
1984 Jacques Hanegraaf (Ned)
1985 Gerrie Knetemann (Ned)
1986 Steven Rooks (Ned)
1987 Joop Zoetemelk (Ned)
1988 Jelle Nijdam (Ned)
1989 Erik Van Lancker (Bel)
1990 Adri van der Poel (Ned)
1991 Frans Maassen (Ned)
1992 Olaf Ludwig (Ger)
1993 Rolf Järmann (Swi)
1994 Johan Museeuw (Bel)
1995 Mauro Gianetti (Swi)
1996 Stefano Zanini (Ita)
1997 Bjarne Riis (Den)
1998 Rolf Järmann (Swi)
1999 Michael Boogerd (Ned)
2000 Erik Zabel (Ger)
2001 Erik Dekker (Ned)
2002 Michele Bartoli (Ita)
2003 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz)
2004 Davide Rebellin (Ita)
2005 Danilo Di Luca (Ita)
2006 Frank Schleck (Lux)
2007 Stefan Schumacher (Ger)

women

2001 Debby Mansveld (Ned)
2002 Leontien Van Moorsel (Ned)
2003 Nicole Cooke (GB)

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