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Bloeizone Fryslân Tour Race History
The Bloeizone Fryslân Tour began life as the Energiewacht Tour in 2011 but is better known as the Healthy Ageing Tour in recent years. The changes in name reflect different sponsor agreements. The recent renaming is to represent the Fryslân area of the Netherlands. Bloeizone translates to ‘bloom zone’ literally but is an initiative for green, relaxing spaces in Fryslân (Friesland).
The VAMberg used to old pride of place for some aggressive, tough racing on its infamous slopes. The man-made hill of covered landfill provided the scene for many attacks during its inclusion in the Healthy Ageing Tour. Unfortunately, the hill is in the Drenthe region of the Netherlands so has been axed from the Bloeizone Fryslân Tour. Keep an eye out of it in Drentse Acht and the Ronde van Drenthe. With no VAMberg, the profiles for Bloeizone Fryslân look very very flat.
A time-trial has usually taken place as one of the stages and that has made Ellen van Dijk the Queen of this race. She’s won here 4 times, in 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2021. Lisa Klein, Amy Pieters, Lisa Brennauer and Lucinda Brand have all won in recent years too. It must be one of the few women’s races to have none of Anna van der Breggen, Annemiek van Vleuten or Marianne Vos on its winners list. Van der Breggen and Van Vleuten have both finished 2nd, whereas Vos’ best result is 3rd.
Ellen van Dijk
Bloeizone Fryslân Tour Contenders
Ellen van Dijk is the undisputed queen of this race. Without the VAMberg she may struggle a little bit more to hold onto her natural advantage in the time trial. Her win last year was legendary to watch though. In awful conditions, the VAMberg was a tough climb for everyone but Van Dijk’s sheer will saw her home for the win. It’s still going to be tough to look past her though. Her teammate Chloe Hosking will get the nod in the 2nd and 3rd stages. They look almost tailor-made for her and will be chances to get off the mark in 2022.
As you’d expect, SD Worx are bringing a solid contingent of riders. Marlen Reusser will give Van Dijk a run for her money in the time trial. The pair are having a great battle against the clock in recent years. She will be in a similar boat where the time against the clock will ebb away as sprinters take time bonuses. Lonneke Uneken feels like the natural go-to in the sprint finishes, she was 11th at Omloop van het Hageland. Christine Majerus has always done well here in the past with a pair of podium finishes. She will do ok against the clock but will be missing some of the traditional tougher stages. Elena Cecchini was 4th in GC here way back in 2016. She will be vying for the sprint finishes here too after her 4th place at Omloop van het Hageland.
Canyon SRAM’s Alice Barnes traditionally does well here. She’ll be encouraged after her attack at Le Samyn des Dames on Tuesday. She came super close to a stage victory in last year’s race, just missing out on the finish line on the Assen circuit. She has a chance at the overall as she can time trial and sprint. The team also has Lisa Klein, who won here in 2019 and animated the race in 2021. She’s not had a great start to the season with a 97th and a DNF but expect to see her do well in the time trial and take things from there.
Jumbo-Visma has a few interesting options. Karlijn Swinkels can time trial well and as we saw at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, she can sprint too. A pair of top-10 stage finishes and the overall points jersey were a reward for a good week. Jip van den Bos feels like a more natural choice for the sprint finishes. 2021 was a tough year with injuries so it’d be great to see her back to her best consistently again. Romy Kasper is going to be an interesting one. Another rider who will be strong in the time trial, she can usually finish reasonably high in sprints without being near the front. Riejanne Markus is in a similar situation. A strong time-trialist, without a breakaway, I think she may struggle compared to the others in getting a really high finishing position. Certainly expecting the top 20 though.
The Liv Racing Xstra pair of Rachele Barbieri and Amber van der Hulst are going to be riders to watch out for in sprints all season. So far we’ve seen Barbieri finish 13th at Le Samyn des Dames and Amber van der Hulst was 24th in the same race. That result hides an attack that Van der Hulst made that ultimately wasn’t successful. She had a little go off the front just before the final sprint. I’m hoping the fair can work together in the sprints here for their first top-10s of the season.
Lucie Jounier is certainly one to watch this year and wasn’t far away from a great result at Le Samyn des Dames – finishing 11th. She hasn’t got a history of good time-trialling so a GC result is probably out of the question but there’s a shot at strong stage results.
The Ceratizit WNT pair of Sandra Alonso and Katie Archibald are going to be under the radar riders to watch. Alonso didn’t have a great Setmana Ciclista Valenciana but has already finished 5th at Vuelta CV Feminas this year. It’s similar for Katie Archibald who was a DNF on the mountainous queen stage. You have to go back a few years but the Olympic and World champion on the track has been good at the time trial and the reduced bunch sprints.
Marjolein Van ‘t Geloof and Maike van der Duin have started the season well with strong results. Van ‘t Geloof took an impressive 6th at Le Samyn des Dames and Van der Duin was 13th at Omloop van het Hageland. The pair link up well and these sorts of sprints where the biggest and best sprinters aren’t racing are perfect for them.
Lieke Nooijen will probably be Parkhotel Valkenburg’s best shot at GC. The young rider has a strong time trial that has already seen her do well last year. A pair of top-10s at the Baloise Ladies Tour TTs should transfer to this one. The team’s sprinter should be Femke Markus who was knocking around the edges of the top-10 a lot in 2021. She’s already on the same path, finishing 13th at Le Samyn des Dames.
Between them, India Grangier and Arianna Pruisscher will be sprinting for Stade Rochelais. It’s looking like Grangier is ahead of Pruisscher at the moment. Certainly at Vuelta CV Feminas, Grangier was led-out for the better result. Grangier went to Turkey and finished 13th at GP Velo Alanya. These flatter stages should give opportunities.
Simone Boilard is sprinting well at the moment, finishing 5th at GP Velo Alanya and 16th at Le Samyn des Dames. It’s tough to know who’s going to get the main nod though, as Elodie Le Bail was 4th at GP Justiniano Hotels, also in Turkey. Then to confuse things further, Coralie Demay was 7th at GP Velo Alanya as well. I think the order is Boilard-Le Bail-Demay but the trio could spring a surprise.
Bloeizone Fryslân Tour Outsiders
The British pair of Emily Meakin and Hayley Simmonds will race for different British based teams. Meakin has moved from Drops-Le Col to AWOL O’Shea and Simmonds is as CAMS Basso. The pair are legendary time triallists on the domestic scene. Both are national champions in the discipline, so can be considered outsiders for the time trial stage specifically.
Manon de Boer will be racing for NWVG-Uplus and can be strong in time trials, finishing in the top-10 at the Dutch national championships. Against this field, she may be able to sneak in the top-10 here. NXTG has their own TT longshot too. Ilse Pluimers missed out on winning the Dutch national junior TT champs in 2020 by just one second.