As it happened: Ronde van Drenthe
- Ronde van Drenthe 2023: Report, Results, Photos
Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of Ronde van Drenthe!
I'm Matilda and I'll be here to take you through the action from the Netherlands - it's a shorter day but that shouldn't cut down the excitement.
Due to the snow and bad weather that saw yesterday's Drentse Acht van Westerveld cancelled, there are some alterations to today's Ronde van Drenthe.
The route has been changed to six laps of a circuit, and the race will start an hour later at 14.00 CET - hopefully giving some time for the worst of the snow to melt.
We haven't got an updated map, but the race will start on the VAM-berg, and finish at the original finish in Hoogeveen.
The course change is pretty significant, as the peloton will now tackle the VAM-berg five times in 94km, rather than three times in 152.7km.
You may have been expecting cobbles in Ronde van Drenthe too, but all nine of those have been taken out.
That decision was made on Friday, with the snow already posing a risk to road safety.
If you were wondering why such a change was needed...
It's definitely taken some creativity from the organisers to keep this race going today.
Since it's now an even bigger part of the race, a few stats on the VAM-berg:
It's a man-made hill built on an old landfill site, and the road is pretty narrow
It's 500m in length with an average gradient of 4.2%
There are some really steep sections though - some up to 20%
It was notably seen in the Dutch national champs last year, where Riejanne Markus won, and today's pre-race favourite Lorena Wiebes was third
The route looks like it will start on the VAM-berg, take in six loops (only five ascents of the climb) and then head to Hoogeveen for the finish line - finishing on the first arrival, rather than heading out on another 30km loop.
The exact roads may be subject to change, but if you need a visualisation (like me!) here's a good estimate. Thanks Mathew!
Something like this! The VAMberg's a borderline maze with the amount of possible routes they can and do take on and off it pic.twitter.com/lMoOjyhYH6March 11, 2023
Eventually we have an official route update from the organisers:
pic.twitter.com/ZlpGGvq9aiMarch 11, 2023
Snow = Christmas, right?
Got to stay in good spirits whilst waiting for the start somehow!
(Christmas) spirits are high as we wait for info on what will happen with @RondevDrenthe today! pic.twitter.com/zQ8YLcExYFMarch 11, 2023
The riders are getting ready to line up and it's cold out there - around four degrees Celsius.
The big question is: how much will the conditions and route change the race?
The added climbing means it's a little less sprinter friendly than intended, but the likes of Wiebes, Bastianelli and Balsamo are strong enough to survive the VAM-berg.
There's no relaxed start here, it's straight into the 14km lap and every kilometre will count today.
Remember, the VAM-berg usually comes after 80km, today the peloton will hit it after less than 15km.
Here's where we're starting today (yes, the climb is just 48m above sea level)
The teams are lined up under the start banner, just a few minutes to go now.
One non-starter to report so far: Aussie champion Brodie Chapman (Trek-Segafredo)
And they're off! 94km lie between the peloton and the finish line in Hoogeveen in around three hours time.
Let's hope everything goes smoothly today. Yesterday's Drentse Acht started but was stopped early on.
The peloton are completing 1.5km of neutral behind the race director's car before the official flag drop.
The out-and-out favourite on the start line is Lorena Wiebes.
Not just because of her sprinting ability, but she's won this race two years in a row now - can she make it three today?
The changed course isn't necessarily a problem for Wiebes.
She has a strong SD Worx team around, and when the national championships visited the VAM-berg last summer, she finished third.
Here's a look at the roll out:
🚩And there we go! The neutralized start sign has been given. There first 1,5 kilometers will be ridden behind the car before the flag will be dropped for 94 kilometers of racing in snowy Drenthe!#RondevDrenthe#UCIWWThttps://t.co/zUMCPVP4YF pic.twitter.com/1mfJXIhk1eMarch 11, 2023
Some other riders to look out for:
Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo)
Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ)
Vittoria Guazzini (FDJ-SUEZ)
Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Zaaf Cycling Team)
Alison Jackson (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB)
Lotta Henttala (AG Insurance - Soudal Quick-Step)
Pfeiffer Georgi (Team DSM)
Because we were expecting a much flatter route, there aren't all that many puncheurs here - no Kopecky, for example.
But that's not to say an opportunistic rider couldn't upset the sprinters' hopes.
Ronde van Drenthe is one of the longest-running races on the women's calendar, it's been around since 1998.
As the Classics season has expanded in recent years, Drenthe has stayed firmly at its core.
This is the second time this year we're seeing Wiebes and Balsamo face eachother, after first meeting at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
The battle should have included Charlotte Kool, Wiebes's biggest threat so far this season, but illness means we'll have to wait to see the trio of sprinters go head-to-head-to-head.
The peloton are about halfway through the first lap now - no moves to report just yet.
It's going to be interesting to see how the teams and riders tackle the VAM-berg.
Teams could certainly work to make the short climb very difficult, but with mainly sprint squads assembled, does anyone have the firepower?
The peloton is still together.
With temperatures of four degrees - and feeling colder with the settled snow - the riders may need some time to warm their legs up!
Nearly at the end of the first lap and the peloton is climbing the VAM-berg for the first time.
The winners list from Drenthe is a real roll of honour, highlighting the position this race holds in the calendar.
Lizzie Deignan, Marianne Vos, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Marta Bastianelli and Jolien D'hoore have all won here - will we see a new name win today, or could it be a Wiebes or Bastianelli repeat victory?
Ronde van Drenthe is one of the few races that Anna van der Breggen hasn't won, but that doesn't mean she doesn't know how to guide her SD Worx riders today.
“We are happy we can race today. With 6 times the VAM berg it will be a hard race still. The positioning will be very important but our riders know how to do it”, says sport director @AnnavdBreggen before the start of @RondevDrenthe.#wesparksuccess pic.twitter.com/DIrIqsMWWlMarch 11, 2023
The peloton is still complete after the VAM-berg, and European champion Lorena Wiebes was right up there at the front of the group on the climb, showing her intentions for the day.
It looks like SD Worx and AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step who are the teams controlling the race so far.
SD Worx have a big goal here today - if she wins, Lorena Wiebes will match Marianne Vos's three-in-a-row record at Drenthe (2011, 2012, 2013).
80KM TO GO
15km complete and it's still all together.
Cold but amazing snowy views on the descent of the VAM-berg.
We’re racing through a winter wonderland ⛄️ #HumanPoweredHealth | #RondevDrenthe pic.twitter.com/zW5FFJNqxnMarch 11, 2023
Still no moves!
With just the one short climb, there aren't many opportunities on this loop to attack - it's all about the VAM-berg, which is a couple of kilometres away.
70KM TO GO
The first ascent of the VAM-berg - it's definitely not easy out there, the peloton is strung out.
Medical issue for Britt de Grave of GT Krush Rebellease who's at the doctor's car.
We're back onto the VAM-berg, still all together.
20km in, a few riders are already having trouble, some from minor crashes and some just struggling on the parcours.
The big teams are keeping things strung out and making it hard at the back.
65KM TO GO
Still no break - it's possible that this could just stay together to the finish, with most teams banking on their sprinters.
The cobbles on the climb are as much as a challenge as the gradient, especially in these inclement conditions.
The riders will be pleased that despite the snow, there are a number of fans cheering them on at the top of the climb.
It's a warming sight on such a cold day!
Just because there's no break, don't imagine that the peloton are just rolling round the laps.
A lot of riders are really having to dig deep on the ascent to not let big gaps open up.
Several riders have gone down in the bunch, with more caught up behind the crash.
Looks like it was a really big crash, and on the narrow roads many riders have either gone down or are stuck.
A lone handful of riders are up the road, by luck of not being involved in the crash.
Eight riders are up the road but they're not particularly pushing on.
With so many riders affected in the crash, there could be a neutralisation - de facto or official.
A lot of riders have been slow to get up from that crash - we'll report any injuries when they are confirmed.
Going over the VAM-berg for the third time now, and two groups at the front are close to coming back together.
The eight riders in the lead includes Mischa Bredewold (SD Worx), Elynor Backstedt (Trek-Segafredo) and Karlijn Swinkels (Jumbo Visma).
What remains of the peloton is now 50 seconds down on the lead.
After a calm start, the race is all over the place after that crash - lots of small groups trying to come back together.
Wiebes is in the largest group on the road - good to see the European champion wasn't too disrupted by the crash.
The second group on the road has rejoined the lead group, and the next group is very close to catching them too.
If this comes back together, it's still going to be a really reduced peloton.
It's still all action at the front though, with riders keener to push on than sit up and wait for things to regroup.
The reason this lead group is riding so hard is because it's in most of the teams' interests to keep Lorena Wiebes at bay. The sprinter is definitely the biggest threat in this race.
Correction: Wiebes's group is now the third on the road.
There's a chasing group of eight riders in between.
In the front group we have: Mischa Bredewold, Lonneke Uneken, Femke Markus (SD Worx), Christina Schweinberger (Fenix-Deceuninck), Marjolein Van 't Geloof (Human Powered Health), Elise Uijen (Team DSM), Anna Henderson, Karlijn Swinkels (Jumbo Visma), Elynor Backstedt (Trek-Segafredo), Lotta Henttala (AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step), Maëlle Grossetête (FDJ-SUEZ) and Susanne Andersen (Uno-X).
Hitting the VAM-berg for the fourth time!
There's been a regrouping in the chase - the second and third groups have come back together.
Lorena Wiebes is really keen to get back to the lead group, she's pushing on on the climb rather than letting Christine Majerus do the work for her.
There's maybe 25 seconds behinder the leaders and the chase now.
There just needs to be one big push and this will come back together - but who will do that job?
It's UAE Team ADQ now who are working in the chase group to close the gap.
With three riders in the lead, SD Worx can avoid working in this group.
A number of riders have abandoned after that crash. Even those that weren't hurt faced a big effort to get back in.
This gap just isn't closing... Big rides from the SD Worx riders up from to keep the 11-rider move going.
Both Balsamo, Bastianelli and Wiebes are all in the second group on the road.
Lotta Henttala is perhaps the most obvious sprinter in this leading group, but don't discount Lonneke Uneken, especially as she has two teammates with her.
The gap is going out: the Balsamo-Wiebes group is now 35 seconds down on the leaders.
The race is on the fifth VAM-berg lap now, so we're approaching the final part of the race.
The gap is definitely NOT going out anymore - the chasers are getting really close, but so hard to make the junction at this speed and in the wind.
But finally the catch is made.
We've got a big group all together in the lead before the fifth ascent of the VAM-berg.
It's Jumbo-Visma who are group at the front now.
Without a top-level sprinter, they'll be looking to make the race hard to get a result.
Jumbo-Visma, SD Worx, Trek-Segafredo and Team DSM are all represented on the front row of this group, policing things.
The ticker may be slightly thrown off by the course change, but the coverage is telling us there is 37km to go here in Drenthe.
And we have another small crash.
A Movistar rider and a Liv TeqFind rider are on the ground after slipping out on the wet road.
Again the narrowness of the road means that a few riders were held up by that crash, so the lead group has shrunk slightly entering the climb.
It's all still grouped on the climb, with Lorena Wiebes showing her strength on the front.
And as soon as I say that, the accelerations start on the flat!
SD Worx have launched a move here, taking the pressure off Wiebes.
The move doesn't look to be going anywhere, but repeated accelerations of this kind will make the rest of the race pretty tough.
SD Worx are pulling on the front of the peloton.
They're both the favourite team here with Wiebes, and the best represented in this group - 5 out of 6 of their starting riders have made it.
Riders are still all over the road behind the leading group. The impact of that big crash was significant, but these riders aren't giving up.
A slowing in the lead bunch has allowed a few of them to catch back on.
The leading group are definitely taking a bit of a break here.
Riders are taking the opportunity to have some gels and food before the finale.
All together and quite calm in this bunch.
Canyon-SRAM are now sending a rider up the road.
It's on SD Worx to close this down.
It's Agnieszka Skalniak-Sójka who is digging in out front, with Femke Markus on her wheel.
SD Worx are allowing other riders to do the work now, with AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step chasing down the pair of attackers.
And the two leaders are caught.
Yet another crash as a pair of riders just come out on a fast corner.
I looks like Silke Smulders (TeqFind) and Letizia Borghesi (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB).
Some sketch moments here as riders are forced to the side of the road, which is muddy and wet from the earlier snow.
We're on the approach to the final ascent of the VAM-berg now.
This is the last chance for any big moves to go - it's all flat from here.
SD Worx are still policing things as the road goes up.
Lorena Wiebes and Elisa Balsamo are right at the front going up the cobble section of the climb - the VAM-berg has not shaken the sprinters.
It's Bredewold who is setting a high pace up the second ramp of the VAM-berg.
11KM TO GO
That's all the climbing complete now.
It's flat to the finish now! Can anyone attack in the final 10km?
Riders are already trying to make moves go on the flat, but it's proving hard.
SD Worx aren't racing conservatively - they're attacking to tire out the rest of this group.
Big attack from Daniek Hengeveld (Team DSM) - she's got an SD Worx rider glued to her wheel.
With Balsamo and Wiebes in this group, practically every other team is banking on a late move - that's their only way to beat the best sprinters in the world.
Jumbo-Visma and AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step are working hard here, but do Labecki and Henttala have a chance in a sprint finish?
It's calmed a bit here.
It looks very likely that we have a bunch sprint coming, from a group of around 40 riders.
7KM TO GO
The sprint teams are trying to get organised.
Wiebes has a bigger lead-out here, but they've been working a lot harder today, which could play into the hands of Balsamo and Trek-Segafredo.
5KM TO GO
Feels like we're just waiting for the sprint in Hoogeveen now.
After an altered, tougher course, most of the sprinters have still managed to be in this group.
Attack from an Uno-X rider!
But she's struggling to get away.
AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Sep are shutting it down, giving a bit of a free ride to SD Worx.
It's Hengeveld again attacking now.
Bredewold is on Hengeveld's wheel, allowing SD Worx to sit in the wheels behind.
Despite a good push, it doesn't look like Hengeveld is going anywhere.
The teams without sprinters have no choice but to launch attacks like that, even if they seem doomed.
The group is smaller now, some tired riders have been dropped in the last few kilometres.
3KM TO GO
Round a roundabout and into the last 3km!
There's another roundabout at about 500m to go, then it's a run-in to the line.
SD Worx are lined up at the front of the bunch now, setting it up for Wiebes.
A lot of shouting in the front of the peloton as the teams try to stay organised.
Here we go! Sprint incoming!
The speed is super high as Uno-X and SD Worx battle for control.
Uno-X have pushed SD Worx out of the way in the front here!
Wiebes still has a teammate in front of her to launch off if, whilst Henttala and Balsamo are alone now.
500m to go! It's really stretched out.
Wiebes has had to launch early here...
But she holds on for the win!
She was the obvious favourite, and she pulls it off!
It was a long sprint for the European champion but her speed was just unbeatable.
Lots of hugs and smiles from the SD Worx team at the finish - they really made the plan work today despite the changes.
That's four wins in a row for the Dutch team.
Susanne Andersen (Uno-X) takes second, with Maike van der Duin (Canyon-SRAM) in third.
Balsamo misses the podium with a fourth-place finish.
From the overhead, Wiebes's dominance is clear - she won by several bikelengths.
That's a hat-trick at the Ronde van Drenthe for Lorena Wiebes.
Three wins in the last three editions. She now shares this accolade with Marianne VOs.
Here's your confirmed top-10:
Wiebes praised her team at the finish, who executed their plan to perfection today.
"It's always hectic, but we took control after the last time on the VAM-berg," she said. "The team positioned me really good. I was in a good position into the last roundabout. I was a bit doubting whether to go on the left or the right side, but I found the space on the right, and I was able to sprint fully."
"It's a race in the Netherlands so that's what I like. Normally it's the cobbles I really like, but this time I think I finally like the VAM-berg."
If you missed anything today, check here for a full report of all the action in Drenthe this afternoon.
Here's your finish photo!
And here's the podium - replete with winner's jersey and a big wreath.
That's all from me!
The Women's WorldTour is back next Sunday with Trofeo Alfredo Binda.