The Women’s WorldTour calendar is full of big races with big names. Ronde van Vlaanderen, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Giro Rosa or even the rising OVO Women’s Tour are some of the competitions that come to mind. But there are also some less famous races that usually offer equal, if no more, excitement and interest. They are the hidden gems of the calendar, and the Ronde van Drenthe is one of the best examples of this. Beautiful scenery + unpredictable, nervous racing has proved to be winning formula year after year.
On paper, as usual, the profile of the Ronde van Drenthe can be very deceptive. Most of the cobbled sections are very far from the finish and the infamous VAMberg is simply way too short to create significant gaps between the best riders. But there’s more than meets the eye, as a look at the action in past editions will easily show. Sprint finishes are not common by any means. It’s a very tactical race in which the usually windy conditions, the narrow roads and the very picturesque cobbled sections through the forest tend to favour breakaways against team work. And it’s pretty long: 158 km. A true classic for classic specialists.
Sprinters or escape artists?
That’s exactly the delicate balance that makes Ronde van Drenthe such an unpredictable race. Recent history says that a breakaway of a few strong riders is more likely to happen than a relatively big bunch sprint, but it’s always hard to know. The weather conditions and the attitude of the riders are the key factor here.
For example, a team like Alé-Cipollini may have an ‘all for Chloe Hosking’ attitude and that would mean sprint, but what will Team Sunweb try? Coryn Rivera is certainly fast, but a squad with riders such as Lucinda Brand or Ellen van Dijk can also go for the opposite tactics. Same for Mitchelton-Scott: Jolien D’hoore will be the undisputed leader in case of a bunch finish, but Gracie Elvin could win the race in a smaller group.
Last year’s winner Amalie Dideriksen is fast enough to be dangerous in every possible situation, but of course Boels-Dolmans has several additional options with road world champion Chantal Blaak and WWT leader Anna van der Breggen, and perhaps also Amy Pieters.
Keep an eye on fit, fast riders like Alexis Ryan (Canyon//SRAM) and Christina Siggaard (Virtu Cycling), as well as Kirsten Wild (Wiggle-High 5) who showed impressive form at the track world championships last week, Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo Bigla) and Cylance’s Giorgia Bronzini and Sheyla Gutiérrez. Last but no least it will be the 2018 debut on the road for Marianne Vos (Waowdeals), a former triple winner of this race.
Yes, it will be broadcasted live
And everybody will be able to follow it starting at 13:45 CET on RTV Drenthe. Link.
Official hashtag is #RondevDrenthe.