Team AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step is in the final stages of preparation for The Ronde van Drenthe, the first race of the season in the Netherlands. On Friday March 10th, the U23 team will compete in the Drentse 8, followed by the elite team lining up for the Women’s WorldTour on Saturday March 11th.
Yuli van der Molen (NED), Julia Grégoire (BEL), Febe Jooris (BEL), Senne Knaven (BEL), Jade Lindthoudt (BEL) and Eline van Rooijen (NED) have been selected to race the Drentse 8. The 140-kilometre course starts in Dwingeloo in the northeast of the Netherlands. The team is almost the same as the selection for the Craywinckelhof Omloop van het Hageland, where Yuli spent the day in the breakaway and is clearly ready for more.
The 19 year-old Dutch rider said, “I felt pretty good in Hageland last week and that’s why I chose that attack that lasted 50 kilometres. I think that as a team we have also taken a nice step there by learning to communicate well and to ride as a group. Last year I also rode in Drenthe and I thought that was a great race. It is typically Dutch with a lot of wind. I hope for wind this year too, because if the weather turns bad, we can ride nicely as a team in the echelons. I believe that as a team we can perform well here with opportunities in the attack or a sprint. I myself hope for smaller groups with myself in the first group, of course. Then I have a chance to show a good sprint.”
On the Saturday, the Women’s WorldTour Ronde van Drenthe is on the menu. It is a prestigious race with an impressive honours list. Jolien D’hoore won the event in 2015. AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step has an experienced team with Romy Kasper (13th participation), Lotta Henttala (seventh participation), Maaike Boogaard (fifth participation), Ilse Pluimers and Maud Rijnbeek (each third participation) and Julia Borgström (second participation).
“Drenthe is above all a race that I really consider one of the classics,” said Maaike Boogaard, one of the three Dutch riders representing the team. “You have the cobbles, the open areas with the wind and of course the VAM-berg. These are all ingredients for a tough race, especially since the course is also 160 kilometres long. The VAM-berg is actually a rubbish dump that you can now ride on from three sides. On one of those sides, you have cobblestones. It is always a difficult point in the race because there is a lot of fighting for position in the narrow run-up.”
”We have already shown that we are a strong team. Of course, there are small things that can be improved, but if everything falls into place, we will see beautiful things on Saturday. We have riders for the attack and Lotta for a sprint. Racing in my own country is always extra special for me and I am really looking forward to giving everything with the girls to achieve a great result together,” Maaike concluded.