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Amstel Gold Race will be like racing at home for Eri Yonamine

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Eri Yonamine looks forward to Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race as though it were in her home town. The Japanese Champion has, in fact, based herself in the Limburg region of the Netherlands since enjoying the experience of racing there for the first time last year. Having fought hard around the cobbled races of Flanders, and the windy races of the northern Netherlands, she has now been able to prepare herself properly for the races that suit her far better.

“Amstel Gold Race is held in the town where I am living, so I’m just so excited because it’s like it’s in my home town!” Yonamine said. “Last year, I decided to live in this area after the Ardennes race week because they were amazing races.

“And, now I’ve been living here since last July. It’s just so nice that I can race here.”

Yonamine joined Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling as a climbing talent, following performances in races like La Course by Le Tour de France, where she finished eleventh. A number of illnesses in the black and orange squad, however, as well as several athletes representing their countries in the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, has meant that the 25-year-old has had to adapt her schedule to races that she is less suited to.

“In Flanders Classic races, they didn’t schedule for me but unfortunately I must race them instead,” she explained. “It was cobbles and wind, and races that do not suit me… I’m not feeling super good but always searching for my good shape also try to work for team.”

Yonamine acquitted herself very well in her first ever full Classics campaign over the cobbles of Flanders, as in the wind of the Healthy Ageing Tour, where she helped teammate Kirsten Wild win a stage, and worked hard in Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s fourth place in the Team Time Trial.

With the experience of those races on board, the Japanese Champion can’t wait to show her qualities on the roads that suit her best.

“Ardennes week should be nice races for the team because we are strong team,” she smiled. “So, I’m looking forward to making good results as team and I will have a lot of pleasure to race here!”

The Amstel Gold Race will see the return to racing of Elisa Longo Borghini, who has recovered from the illness that forced her to miss the Tour of Flanders. The Italian Champion originally targeted the three “Ardennes” races of Amstel Gold, la Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but is downplaying her chances this weekend after her enforced break.

Also returning after illness is Austrian Champion Martina Ritter, whose characteristics have also seen her perform in the Ardennes. Audrey Cordon-Ragot spent much of last year’s Amstel Gold in a breakaway, and finished twelfth after having set up Longo Borghini for her fifth place. The French Time Trial Champion has been training well since her strong performances in the Cobbled Classics.

Lisa Brennauer will look to continue the good form that saw her take third in the Healthy Ageing Tour individual time trial, and feature in most of the race’s main breakaways, while Emilia Fahlin will provide the invaluable service to her teammates that she performed in the first Women’s World Tour races of the season.

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling team for the Amstel Gold Race
Lisa Brennauer
(Germany), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France), Emilia Fahlin (Sweden), Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy), Martina Ritter (Austria), Eri Yonamine (Japan)

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