Ronde van Drenthe: Lorena Wiebes takes third straight title in snow-shortened edition
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Lorena Wiebes (Team SD Worx) has completed her hattrick of Ronde van Drenthe victories, winning the Dutch race for the third time in a row after 2021 and 2022. The European champion was untouchable in a hectic sprint of a reduced group, winning by several bike lengths against Susanne Andersen (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team) and Maike van der Duin (Canyon-SRAM).
“It’s always hectic, but we took control after the last time up the VAMberg. The team positioned me really well, I was in a good position into the last roundabout. I was a bit in doubt if I should go on the left or the right side, but in the end, I found a space on the right and could sprint fully,” Wiebes recounted the final.
With her third victory, Wiebes equalises the record of Marianne Vos who won the 2011, 2012, and 2013 editions.
“I like that it’s a race in the Netherlands, and normally I also really like the cobbles, but this time, I finally liked the VAMberg. It’s extra nice to win it for the third time,” Wiebes said.
Overnight snowfall forced the race organisers to change the course at the last minute, shortening the race to 94 kilometres without the notorious cobblestone sections on the ‘Drentse keien’, instead consisting of six laps around the VAMberg before the run-in to the finish.
“It was fine, especially that the race could be held at all, the organisation did everything to make it happen. There was some water on the roads, but not so much as to make it dangerous. They did everything to get the VAMberg circuit ready and did that well. In my opinion, it was a safe race,” the winner thanked the organisers for making the race possible.
How it unfolded
The last-minute course adjustments cut almost 60 km from the race, including all the planned cobblestone sectors. However, instead of three 14-kilometre laps with the double ascent of the VAMberg, the peloton now had to climb the landscaped waste dump six times. Combined with the cold temperatures, this made for a shorter but harder race, but at least there was no more rain or snowfall.
After the first two laps, a group of eight riders including Lotta Henttala (AG Insurance-Soudal Quick Step), Mischa Bredewold (Team SD Worx), Elise Uijen (Team DSM), Andersen, Karlijn Swinkels (Team Jumbo-Visma), Maëlle Grossetête (FDJ-SUEZ), Elynor Bäckstedt (Trek-Segafredo), and Marjolein van’t Geloof (Human Powered Health) broke away just before a big crash split the rest of the peloton.
After the third ascent of the VAMberg, Christina Schweinberger (Fenix-Deceuninck), Anna Henderson (Team Jumbo-Visma), and the Team SD Worx duo of Femke Markus and Lonneke Uneken joined the front group while groups came together to form a big chasing peloton about 20-30 seconds behind.
UAE Team ADQ put in most of the work in the chase, with Team Jayco-AlUla also helping out, and eventually, they closed the gap to the front with 33 km to go, halfway through the penultimate lap. After the VAMberg, Uneken unsuccessfully tried to get away, and a few minutes later, Agnieszka Skalniak-Sójka attempted the same but had Markus jump on her wheel. They were caught soon after.
Uneken led the peloton up the cobbled climb of the VAMberg with Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) and Wiebes on her wheel, and Bredewold accelerated on the short but steep second punch to reduce the size of the group.
Grossetête made a move after the descent but could not get away. Daniek Hengeveld (Team DSM) was the next to try, but Bredewold went onto her wheel, and they were quickly reeled in by AG Insurance-Soudal Quick Step. After an attempt by Amalie Lutro (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), Hengeveld tried for a second time but again had Bredewold on her wheel and again saw her move closed down by AG Insurance-Soudal Quick Step.
Team SD Worx were in control on the run-in to the finish with three riders ahead of Wiebes, but Uno-X Pro Cycling Team took over in the final kilometre. Maria Giulia Confalonieri led out the sprint, getting a gap out of the final turn, but Wiebes had no trouble sprinting past her and Andersen in the last 150 metres to take the victory. Andersen took second place while Van der Duin beat Balsamo for third place and Confalonieri managed to hold on for fifth.
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