Women’s Ronde van Drenthe 2020 Preview – Tips, Contenders, Profile

As of 12th March, this race is now cancelled!

It feels like an age since we’ve had a Women’s WorldTour race. The last one was back on 1st February in Australia – the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Lianne Lippert won that one but isn’t racing Ronde van Drenthe so we may see a new rider in the WorldTour leader’s jersey afterwards. The gap is mainly down to the unfortunate cancellation (or postponement…) of Strade Bianche. All of the upcoming Belgian races have been cancelled today (12th March).

There’s been a women’s Ronde van Drenthe since 2007. Marianne Vos is the most dominant rider with 3 wins in a row between 2011-2013. No other rider has won more than 1 edition of this race. The infamous VAMberg is climbed 3 times. A rubbish tip that’s been covered over and the addition of some wiggly tarmac and cobbled paths to create a climb. It’s 44 metres high at an average of 17.5% and a max gradient of 21%. It’s steep enough to blow the race apart or gap some of the stragglers of the peloton.

Last year’s windy race saw a small group of 3 arrive at the finish together with an only slightly larger chasing pack 20 seconds behind. 2018 saw a pair of riders finish 1 second ahead of a reasonably sized peloton. In fact, more often than not a small group finishes a few seconds ahead of the pack. After 2018, you have to go back to 2011 to find the last mass peloton sprint for the victory. There’s a decent headwind forecast for Sunday so the peloton should be broken up once again.

Women’s Ronde van Drenthe 2020 Profile

Women’s Ronde van Drenthe Favourites

Let’s start with last year’s winner, Marta Bastianelli. She attacked and won the sprint against 2 other riders to claim her first Ronde van Drenthe victory. She’s started this season with another epic run of results- 2nd, 2nd and 1st. With no Marianne Vos still, CCC-Liv will be riding for Ashleigh Moolman instead. She’s usually a solid bet for a high placing but has only done this race once before, finishing 59th. We know she’s more than capable of finishing higher than that.

Just like in Drentse Acht van Westerveld, Boels Dolmans are stacked. They’ve brought 3 formers Ronde van Drenthe winners in Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Amy Pieters and Jolien d’Hoore. It’s certainly nice to have attacking breakaway options in van den Broek-Blaak and Amy Pieters. If it does come down to a big bunch sprint then it will fall to Jolien d’Hoore to get the best result. On top of that, Boels also have Anna van der Breggen. It’s not her best race with 2nd and 4th places her only top-10 results here. She’s still an amazing card to be able to play tactically though.

The next super team is Trek Segafredo. With Lotta Henttala no longer on the start list, there’s no back-up sprinter option. Instead, the team will be looking to attack, attack and attack. Elizabeth Deignan won Ronde van Drenthe back in 2014 and it will be the first race of her 2020 season. Ellen van Dijk and finished on the podium 3 times but never the top step. She rode impressively strongly in Omloop van het Hageland. Lucinda Brand has come in for Henttala. She’s finished 3rd and 4th before in Ronde van Drenthe when racing for Sunweb. Audrey Cordon-Ragot is a solid option. She’s finished all 4 of her attempts here between 12th and 26th place. Finally, the last great option is Elisa Longo Borghini. She’s finished 4th before but also has another 4 top-25 results at Ronde van Drenthe.

Now for the sprinter specialists. Kirsten Wild has earned herself a pair of rainbow jerseys on the track recently. She won the scratch race and the madison to outline her form. She’s finished in the top-10 7 times but somehow never won Ronde van Drenthe. ParkHotel’s Lorena Wiebes is an obvious contender, especially after winning Omloop van het Hageland. That win showed that she’s unaffected after the off-season drama that threatened to curtail her season. Another rider who’s been having fun on the track recently is Lotte Kopecky. A bunch sprint suits her but she was also strong enough to go up the road in Le Samyn des Dames and finished 3rd. Roxane Fournier was 12th in Omloop van het Hageland this season after her late move to Chevalmeire. It will be interesting to see how she gets on in Drentse Acht van Westerveld on Friday but she has a best finish of 8th here.

Sunweb’s best option is Floortje Mackaij who has 3 top-10 finishes at this race. She was 3rd in her only race of 2020, Omloop het Nieuwsblad. If it does come down to a bunch sprint then Coryn Rivera becomes the better option. She was 34th in her only race of the season at Omloop het Nieuwsblad but has previously finished 6th here. Canyon SRAM’s Elena Cecchini finished 2nd in the 2017 race. TIBCO’s Lauren Stephens had a great start to the season in Australia. She was 4th Overall in the Tour Down Under, 7th in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and 13th Overall in the Herald Sun Tour too. If she can carry that form over, she’ll be in with a great chance.

Italian Elena Cecchini was 11th in Omloop het Nieuwsblad for Canyon SRAM. She was also 2nd in the 2017 edition of Ronde van Drenthe. FDJ’s best hope is probably in Stine Borgli. She finished 10th overall in Setmana Ciclista Valenciana with a pair of 6th place finishes in stages along the way. Finally, Elizabeth Banks got her Classics season off to a great start with 6th place at Omloop het Nieuwsblad. Combined with her 3 top-10 results at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana it looks like Banks will continue to get closer to a breakout career win.

Women’s Ronde van Drenthe Outsiders

Teniel Campbell promised a lot going into 2020 with her move from the WCC team to Valcar. So far she’s delivered on that with 3rd at Vuelta CV and 5th places in Setmana CV and Omloop van het Hageland. It will be interesting to see how she gets on in the more competitive peloton in a Women’s WorldTour race. Lisa Brennauer is a quality rider but this race doesn’t necessarily give her the best chance to get a result. This will be her first race of 2020 after spending time on the track. Her 2nd place in the Individual Pursuit is hopefully a good sign of form for the road season.

Emilia Fahlin had a great ride at Omloop van het Hageland, sprinting to 4th place. It was borderline whether I favoured her over Borgli as a favourite. Maybe a stronger result than Fahlin’s 62nd in Omloop het Nieuwsblad might’ve swung it her way. Finally, the young sprinter Charlotte Kool will be racing for NXTG. After some solid results at lower-level results, it will be interesting to see how she fares racing at WorldTour level. There’s certainly a lot of potential there though.

Race Prediction

Amy Pieters
Lotte Kopecky
Chantal van den Broek-Blaak

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