The overnight talk was about how the cobbled sections had been removed from the Ronde van Drenthe and whether the VAMberg would still be in the race or not after more snowfall. In the end, the race started at the cleared VAMberg instead of Emmen and took the former rubbish heap 6 times before heading to Hoogeveen. The planned finishing loop around the town was also cancelled, so the race reverted back to last year’s final kilometres.
As the live coverage started, the peloton had just crashed in large numbers. A touch of wheels near the front was the cause and on narrow roads, there was nowhere for anyone following to go but down. With riders stuck, the race split into bunches trying to regain a position near the front of the race. Pre-race favourite Lorena WIebes was stuck back in the 3rd group on the road at this point.
Gradually across multiple ascents of the VAMberg, the groups began to close up and those with no chance of catching up were slowly withdrawing from the race. Each ascent saw the bunch string out and begin a chase to close back up again on the rest of the loop. Despite the cold conditions though, nothing was really sticking off the front and we were left with a big bunch coming off the VAMberg for the final time on the way to Hoogeveen.
Daniek Hengeveld tried repeatedly to go off the front but was marked by the likes of Mischa Bredewold of SD Worx and so no leeway was given to the young Dutch rider at this late stage of the race. As the peloton negotiated the traffic furniture in the town, SD Worx’s lead-out hit the front and looked imperious thanks to the presence of Christine Majerus guiding them through. Only in the last kilometre or so did Uno-X challenge them but they ran out of riders at the crucial point and Lorena Wiebes was able to simply power on through to the finish line.
Behind Wiebes, there was a 2nd place for Susanne Andersen, ensuring that Uno-X got something out of today and Maike van der Duin in 3rd. For the latter, it was enough to put her into the lead of the Women’s WorldTour youth standings. Elisa Balsamo finished 4th for Trek-Segafredo.
“It was really crazy in the last 24 hours. There was lots of hesitation about the race: would we race or not. In the end it was decided we would race but at the start there was still hesitation. It was a nervous race with crashes. Ilse (Pluimers) and Romy (Kasper) helped me at the start and then I found myself in the breakaway after two laps. The crashes happened behind me. Julia (Borgström) and Maud (Rijnbeek) came back and helped me.
I encouraged them to give all and be focused on breakaways. They did a great job. We were short on riders in the final while SD Worx had five. I needed to use a lot of energy in the final kilometres and didn’t have lots left in the final kilometre. In the end, after all that happened, sixth is a good result and there is more to come in the Belgian races.”Lotta Henttala
“In the race, I felt so good. Aga (Agnieszka) positioned me for the final climb, and when I was in the first ten riders up the VAMberg the last time, I knew it was all out for the sprint. When we didn’t get our lead-out right, I knew I needed to find the right wheels. I’m happy with the sprint. I think I had more speed than Andersen who came second, but she started in a better position in the final corner. You always look for things to improve: better positioning, not being alone, maybe one gear different. I’ll use it for the next opportunity.
In the final metres, as I crossed the finish line, I thought how great it was to give the first podium to the team in my second race with CANYON//SRAM Racing. My friends and family were all here, and getting the podium is a nice feeling. The World Tour youth jersey is a bonus!”Maike van der Duin
Main Photo Credit: Bas Czerwinski | Getty Images
2023 Ronde van Drenthe result
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