How the race finished
Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) made it a second consecutive victory at Ronde van Drenthe, with world champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) in second, and the current WWT leader Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) in third. It was a reduced bunch sprint from a group winnowed down by an attritional day of racing, with both Wiebes and Kopecky making it back from punctures along the way.
The main action
The race ran 159km between Assen and Hoogeveen, in the north-east of the Netherlands. It featured ten cobbled sections, and although the route was mainly flat, the final circuits featured four ascents over the VAM Berg, a former rubbish dump turned man-made hill. Movistar was a notable absence, citing scheduling difficulties that wouldn’t allow them to bring a full team.
Kerry Jonker, from Andy Schleck – CP NVST – Immo Losch, started the day off with an early solo attack, getting away 14km into the race. She kept a gap of over a minute and a half for around twenty kilometres, before it started to drop by the fourth cobbled section, and she was caught before the fifth cobbled section at Odoorn.
After the first time over the VAM Berg – a short, sharp climb with a cobbled section and a narrow descent – the peloton split into several groups. Marta Jaskulska (Liv Racing Xstra) and Teuntje Beekhuis (Jumbo-Visma) attacked, and led the second time over the VAM Berg, but were caught by the first group, made up of race favourites. Behind them, a second group were chasing them down, trying to rejoin before the third ascent of the VAM Berg, particularly driven by Parkhotel-Valkenberg and Bike-Exchange Jayco.
The group reformed just in time for the third ascent of the VAM Berg, but the peloton cracked again, leaving a group of about 25 riders. After the climb, Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo) attacked and took a group of four off the front: Floortje Mackaij (Team DSM), Romy Kasper (Jumbo-Visma) and Elena Cecchini (SD Worx). However, they were hunted down by the group behind them.
As soon as van Dijk’s group was caught, another made it off the front, including Riejanne Markus (Jumbo Visma) and Christine Majerus (SD Worx), though they failed to work together. Jip van den Bos (Jumbo Visma), seeing that the group wouldn’t make it, attacked off the front, and was joined by Marlen Reusser, Alison Jackson (Liv Racing), Pfeiffer Georgi (Team DSM) and Mischa Bredeworld (Parkhotel Valkenburg).
With 27km to go, the chase was disrupted by the chasing group turning the wrong way at a roundabout, with Ellen van Dijk caught up in a crash, and giving the third group a chance to rejoin the second. The leaders now had over thirty seconds. However, the chasing group brought the gap down swiftly, catching them with 21 km to go. Last year’s winner, Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM), punctured and had to make her way back to the group, as did Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx), the current WWT leader.
Riejanne Markus (Jumbo-Visma) led into the final climb of the VAM Berg. With less than 15km to go, gaps opened up; a group of ten got a few seconds free, but were brought back, leaving a group of twenty-two for the final eleven kilometres.
With ten kilometres to go, a group of four broke away, with Sarah Roy (Canyon//SRAM Racing), Nina Buijsman (Human Powered Health), Anouska Koster (Team Jumbo-Visma), and Christine Majerus (SD Worx), who won yesterday’s Drentse Acht van Westerveld. They had fifteen seconds, with 5km to go. With less than 4km to go, Koster attacked, but couldn’t quite break free, with Roy quickly on her wheel.
With the power of Ellen van Dijk on the front of the chasing group, they were caught at the flamme rouge. Koster kept free for a few more seconds, but was overtaken by the teams preparing for the sprint. Chloe Hosking (Trek Segafredo) lead out Elisa Balsamo, and Pfeiffer Georgi (DSM) lead out Lorena Wiebes, who jumped off Balsamo’s wheel at the last possible second, and took the victory.
Just behind Lorena Wiebes was the world champion, Elisa Balsamo, with Lotte Kopecky coming in third. Notably, Sarah Roy kept a top 10 finish, after being caught just before the final kilometre, with her Canyon//SRAM teammate Alice Barnes finishing ahead in sixth; Jip van den Bos also got into the top 10, after an exciting attack earlier in the race. Despite losing out on the victory, with her podium position, Lotte Kopecky maintains her place at the top of the WWT rankings.