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Ronde van Drenthe 2024 Race Preview

Andersen Wiebes Van der Duin Ronde van Drenthe podium 2023

Ronde van Drenthe History

The Women’s Ronde van Drenthe is a rare race where the women’s version has outlasted the men’s one. All the focus has been put onto the women’s one due to difficulty in hosting the race amongst various nature areas in the Drenthe area. That doesn’t mean the women’s race is unscathed as it has changed considerably. It will now head straight to the VAMberg and begin local laps as the cobbled sections through the woods have been removed completely. We will also see a first summit finish on the VAMberg which will change the finish from its traditional flat sprint. Tested at the European Championships last season, there’s little to suggest that Lorena Wiebes won’t go 4 wins in a row.

The Ronde van Drenthe is of the longest running women’s races in the calendar with a whole host of major name winners since its introduction in 2007. No less than 5 world champions have won Ronde van Drenthe and it has borderline monument status when it comes to women’s cycling. Marianne Vos is the most successful rider with 3 wins, all in a row between 2011-2013. The only other multiple winner is Lorena Wiebes in the last 2 editions. She is on the startlist again so has a chance to match the achievement of Vos. Other big-name winners include Lizzie Deignan, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak and Jolien d’Hoore.

The major obstacle in what is a generally flat race is the VAMberg. The climb is notorious for being made of literal rubbish and then topped over with some grass, roads and cobbled sections. Because it’s an artificial hill, it sticks out of the landscape and is particularly exposed. This year the race tackles it 5 times before a finish on the slopes. The weather forecast for Sunday is relatively calm at 11° and steady but not massive winds of 12mph.

Previous Winners

Lorena Wiebes
Lorena Wiebes
Lorena Wiebes

Ronde van Drenthe 2024 Profile

TV Coverage

Sunday 10th March 2024

Live on Eurosport/Discovery in Europe
Also expecting it to be freely available on
RTV Drenthe with a VPN

All times in GMT

Twitter: #RondevDrenthe

Startlist: FirstCycling

Ronde van Drenthe 2024 Contenders

If Marianne Vos was the original queen of Ronde van Drenthe, then Lorena Wiebes is the current one. She won the last 3 races in a row here and the change to the finish on top of the VAMberg will not present an issue either. She’s just won the GP Oetingen with a few test bursts on the climbs that looked like trials for this weekend. She’s the obvious race favourite. SD Worx can put pressure on others through Mischa Bredewold, who skipped GP Oetingen to recover some more from her crash at Strade Bianche. She’s not necessarily got the best Ronde van Drenthe results but she won her European Championships here last year with a break that stayed clear. That should be her role again. It’ll be interesting to see what Chantal van den Broek-Blaak does in Drenthe too. A former winner back in 2016, she was 2nd in 2019 as well, with a body of work that includes 6 top-10s over the years. She has the potential to be either another attacking option or a break killer.

Elisa Balsamo has traditionally done well here but hasn’t been able to topple Wiebes yet. 2nd in 2022 and 4th in 2023, There is potential for the uphill sprint this year to suit her, even if it’s still going to be tough to win. What might help her out is that she should get a lead-out from new teammate Clara Copponi. The French rider was 4th in the 2022 Ronde van Drenthe and might have her own ambitions if anything happens to Balsamo. Lidl-Trek will need to get its tactics right to not overwork in order to challenge SD Worx but for now, Balsamo will be the favourite to be on the 2nd step of the podium. 

If we were on the old route with the flat finish, you would haven’t to seriously consider Charlotte Kool for the win at Ronde van Drenthe. Now with the uphill finish on the VAMberg, it just drifts away from her a little bit. I can still see her challenging for the podium but out of the big 3 sprinters, it makes her the 3rd best option on paper. A slow start to the 2024 season due to illness also doesn’t help confidence. Dsm-firmenich PostNL might choose to go on the attack and has the British pair of Josie Nelson and Pfeiffer Georgi to do just that. Nelson just took an impressive 3rd place at GP Oetingen after reading the race well to twice get into moves off the front. The course layout now really suits someone like Pfeiffer Georgi to go clear and be a tough rider to catch again. She was 6th in 2021 and 15th in 2022 whilst setting up teammates. 4th in the European Championships last year is a good indicator of what’s possible.

Fenix-Deceunick has plenty of options here too. Christina Schweinberger doesn’t have a good Ronde van Drenthe result before on the flat finish but continues to show that her development at the end of 2023 is here to stay. 3rd Le Samyn des Dames and 4th at Omloop van het Hageland go nicely with a pair of 15th places at the WWT Strade Bianche and Omloop het Nieuwsblad. She should work nicely with Puck Pieterse who you can see having the explosive power to challenge on the VAMberg. Pieterse has been more than solid this season on the road, with 8th, 10th and 13th so far. She doesn’t have many road races left this year so will want to do well. Julie de Wilde seems to be slow to recover from the sickness that took her out of Le Samyn des Dames after only getting 47th at GP Oetingen. If she can be 100% again then she has the power to dominate the VAMberg and be a challenger at the end.

Marta Lach
Marta Lach

A rider that should really suit the new finish is Ceratizit-WNT’s Marta Lach. The Pole can sprint but is one of those in-between riders who can climb too whilst still having a kick at the finish. Her best result of the season is 4th at Trofeo Palma Femina with a decent small climb at the end and similarly 5th at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana on a hilly day. She missed the lead move at Trofeo Oro in Euro but was strong enough to bridge across to the back of it and almost hang on for the finish too. She’s supported by Arianna Fidanza and Kathrin Schweinberger who both struggled a bit at GP Oetingen but potentially could do well on paper. Lach feels like the one to watch out for though.

UAE Team ADQ is a tough one to pick apart here. Chiara Consonni would’ve been the best shout on the old finish and took top 10s there. So far in 2024 though, she’s shown to just struggle a touch on hilly races, missing out on sprints in all of the 4 Belgian races she’s contested so far. So you’re tempted to look at others on the team instead. Normally I’d favour Eleonora Gasparrini if not for a slow return from crashing in Valencia. She was 3rd in 2021’s Ronde van Drenthe and has a win already at Trofeo Binissalem-Andratx. But results since the crash have fallen off a cliff. Sofia Bertizzolo is another option and she did well in Australia finishing with 2 3rd places on rolling hills stages. She’s been slower to get results back in Europe though but potentially is a good rider on a hilly course with a fast finish. The form rider for the team is Karlijn Swinkels after 2nd at Trofeo Oro in Euro and 4th at Le Samyn des Dames. She was 8th in last year’s Ronde van Drenthe but can definitely improve on that here after impressive climbing in Italy.

Uno-X should go with Maria Giulia Confalonieri after finishing 5th here last season and coming off 4th at GP Oetingen this week. The Italian was also 10th at Le Samyn des Dames as she’s just starting to find some good form and results this spring. She’s got a strong supporting cast too with the likes of Anniina Ahtosalo, Simone Boilard and a former Ronde van Drenthe winner in Amalie Dideriksen. I was high on Ahtosalo at GP Oetingen after finishing 2nd at Le Samyn des Dames but it wasn’t to be as the cobbles and climbs saw her drop from the lead group. Simone Boilard should be good on the repeated climbs and you can see her attacking and trying to get an elite break going. The new finish won’t suit Dideriksen as much as the old one but will bring some useful experience to guide her younger teammates.

This should be another chance for Vittoria Guazzini to impress for FDJ-Suez. She won Le Samyn des Dames last week after coming close in previous years. That should inspire some confidence in the Italian that a win can bring. She was 7th here in last year’s race but should just suit the uphill finish more than the flat one previously. She’s able to go with moves and attacks, hopefully getting into a small group at the right time.

Victoire Berteau
Victoire Berteau

Victoire Berteau was 15th on the VAMberg finish for the European Championships last year which is encouraging for a good finish with team support in this year’s race. She’s never actually raced a Ronde van Drenthe before so that result is our only data point for what she’s done before here. She’s been in good form this season with 9th at Le Samyn des Dames and a strong breakaway at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana that held on until the final kilometre.

Canyon SRAM have chosen this to be more of a form development race looking at their team on the startlist. Maike van der Duin was 3rd here last year in the flat sprint and could still challenge on the new finish but it’s tough to be confident about as the Dutch rider hasn’t raced on the road yet so far in 2024 making her form unknown. That’s down to a crash during the team’s training camp back in December which saw her on crutches with a leg injury. Zoe Backstedt is here too after a good cyclocross season and has the potential to do well, it’s also her first road race of the season. This all kinda leaves Agnieszka Skalniak-Sojka and Alice Towers as riders to watch but not necessarily be confident about for a strong result. This is an opportunity to impress for someone though with some of the bigger names not here.

I’m expecting Thalita de Jong to join the startlist before we get underway on Sunday. The Dutch rider is having a super strong spring campaign and should be in the mix at Ronde van Drenthe if she does indeed pin a number on. Her run of top-15 finishes this year is now up to 7 races, with an impressive 2nd place at GP Oetingen in mid-week. There will be a case for her to not overdo things but at the moment she’s certainly got the hot hand.

Ronde van Drenthe 2024 Outsiders

Ilse Pluimers
Ilse Pluimers

Ilse Pluimers will be one to watch out for after winning on the VAMberg last year in the U23 European Championships road race. She was impressive coming to the line and had plenty of power to finish off the win. Up against the Elites in the rest of the peloton this time will probably make it a different story but you can’t underestimate a rider who knows what it’s like to win here. On the same team, Marthe Goossens has been impressive so far this season with a pair of top-10s in the Challenge Mallorca races and almost hitting the top-10 again at Le Samyn des Dames in 11th. We good very well see the team working for her here.

The experienced pair at VolkerWessels of Valerie Demey and Sabrina Stultiens could help to attack the race. Demey has some good results here in the past with a couple of top-20s whilst assisting other teammates and the finish now will suit better than it used to. Sabrina Stultiens has surprisingly never raced Ronde van Drenthe in her long career but took a decent 26th at Omloop het Niewusblad in her only race so far in 2024. For Demey, there’s a chance to try and get into the top 15 or more, whereas I think we might see Stultiens try and go clear on the attack.

Kristyna Burlova hit back with her first strong result since the opening day of the season when she was 4th at the Tour Down Under. A crash in Australia derailed that a bit but she took 11th this week at GP Oetingen to show off a fast finish on a hilly course. There are encouraging signs that the Czech rider will get a major result or win at some point in the 2024 season.

Silke Smulders is worth keeping an eye on for Liv AlUla Jayco as well. The young Dutch rider was 9th this week at GP Oetingen for comfortably the best result of her season so far. She sort of plateaued results-wise at Liv Racing over the last couple of years, so the merge to a new team hopefully looks like it might have got her back on track.

Top 3 Prediction