Compared to some of more recent races, this Sunday’s Ronde van Drenthe (17th March) has more of a history in the women’s racing calendar having been raced since 2007. There’s only been one multiple winner in all that time – Marianne Vos (unsurprisingly).
The pretty much flat parcours has seen sprinters often finish highly although if a strong enough group gets away on the double climbs of the VAMberg (a covered rubbish mound) around 40km from the finish, we’ve also seen those stay away until the finish.
Women’s Ronde van Drenthe 2019 Contenders
Chantal Blaak will once again be one of the favourites. She had a less successful last week, ‘only’ finishing 10th and 11th in Strade Bianche and Le Samyn respectively. Obviously strong and in some form, she’ll be a cert for a top-10.
She’ll be backed up by Jolien d’Hoore who finished 16th in Le Samyn. D’Hoore is a more natural sprinter than Blaak so will form the basis of the Boels Dolmans attack if she’s in the front group near the finish line. D’Hoore broke her collarbone this week.
CCC-Liv’s Marianne Vos started her 2019 season with a good 7th place in Strade Bianche. A rider that can never be ruled out, she should make it to the end in the front group but may get outsprinted by other more powerful riders unless she can come up with something canny near the finish.
Ellen Van Dijk hasn’t had a particularly good start to 2019 with a highest finish of only 16th. She’s got a very good history at this race though, twice finishing on the podium. She is still a good shout for a top-10 but with the questionable 2019 form, it’s a less safe bet than usual. Trek also have the Finn Lotta Lepisto. She finished 2nd at Omloop van het Hageland 2 weeks ago so clearly has good form. This strong result followed on from 2 stage wins at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana as well. A strong sprinter, she will either be leading out Van Dijk or finishing strongly herself.
Marta Bastianelli‘s worst result in 4 races so far this season is 8th, having also won Omloop van het Hageland. She’s a strong favourite for Ronde van Drenthe as she possesses a decent sprint that should see her finish ahead of rivals. Former teammate Australian Chloe Hosking had a very strong start to the season, winning races in Australia. She’s done solidly so far at the start of the European season – finishes of 14th and 24th in Omloop het Nieuwsblad and Omloop van het Hageland are certainly respectable.
Kirsten Wild predictably has been strong at this race. She’s never won it but she’s finished 2nd in two editions of Ronde van Drenthe. She’s then also managed another 6 top-12 finishes for good measure. She’s not raced on the road so far in 2019 but has been a double world champion on the track in the Omnium and the Madison (as well as a silver and bronze medal in the Scratch and Points races). A strong sprinter, she should be up there again.
Lucinda Brand has been busy supporting teammates so far in 2019. She’ll get the team working for her in Ronde van Drenthe however. She’s finished 3rd and 4th before so will be in with a shot. She’ll need to make sure that some of the more powerful sprinters have been dropped in order to win. Her teammate Floortje Mackaij has the better results in 2019 so far. A 7th in Omloop van het Hageland and 10th in Omloop het Nieuwsblad is a good start to the season. She’s also done well here before with two lower top-10 finishes – she certainly has a chance to repeat those.
Movistar’s Roxanne Fournier is having an excellent 2019 so far, 4th place in Omloop van het Hageland and 12th in Le Samyn was a good return in the Belgian races. She also managed 2 4th places and a 6th whilst racing in Valencia too. A rider with a good sprint, if she’s with the final group, she’ll be a strong contender – she’ll certainly want to improve on her best position here of 8th. Emilia Fahlin pushed on considerably in 2018. Her best finish in Ronde van Drenthe is only a 22nd but the number of high finishes towards the end of 2018 makes her a contender. With the demise of Wiggle-Honda, she’s moved to the FDJ team for 2019. She’s not raced so far so it’s not clear what her form is like.
Canyon-SRAM’s Alexis Ryan started the season well with 5th at Omloop het Nieuwsblad, a rider with a strong sprint, she was 2nd in last year’s Ronde van Drenthe. In good form with good history in this race, she’s a genuine favourite. She’ll be supported by Aussie Tiffany Cromwell who is remarkably consistent at Ronde van Drenthe – she has 7 top-14 results in 7 attempts. Somehow though, she’s never finished higher than 6th. Another rider who has been supporting others in 2019, she has no high finishes to speak of so far, so her season will start properly here.
Fellow Aussie Gracie Elvin is in better form in 2019 – 4 top-5 finishes whilst racing in Australia early on this year set her up well form-wise for the Spring as she finished 5th in last week’s Omloop van het Hageland. Capable of getting over the hills, she should find herself up there at the end of the race. Lotto’s Demi de Jong has had a great start to the Spring Classics – finishing 3rd at Le Samyn and 11th at Omloop van het Hageland. That last result in particular is a good omen for Ronde van Drenthe as it’s a similar but harder parcours. She finished 19th in her first Ronde last year and should be able to improve on that in 2019.
Finally, TIBCO’s Alison Jackson will be hoping to carry on her strong 2019 that started with a series of great results in Australia. 47th in last weekend’s Strade Bianche in a race that doesn’t necessarily suit her is a blip of sorts but she may be able to carry over that Antipodean form into the European season.
Women’s Ronde van Drenthe 2019 Outsiders
Elisa Balsamo hasn’t raced on the road so far in 2019 but ended 2018 with a sprint win at the GP Bruno Beghelli. A strong pursuit-er on the track, a past role that often produces strong sprinters, if she can manage to keep in touch after the climbs, she can finish highly at the end. Belgian Valerie Demey raced in Australia earlier this season without an obvious strong result but now back racing in Europe has managed 2 solid results of 17th and 26th in the Omloop races. If something happens to Mariane Vos, she’ll be able to get a strong result racing for herself.
Lorena Wiebes finished 18th in Omloop van het Hageland. A rider with a strong sprint, if she can make it to the finish in the front group she should be able to get a very good top-10 finish. Health Mate-Cyclive’s Sara Mustonen is a capable sprinter with a 9th place already at the one-day Valenciana race this season. She’s previously out-sprinted other contenders at this race and could find herself sneaking into the top-10.