World champion Amalie Dideriksen sprinted to her first victory in the rainbow jersey in Hoogeveen, Holland on Saturday. The 20-year-old proved fastest in a four-up sprint that determined the winner of Ronde van Drenthe, the second round of the UCI Women’s WorldTour. It is the first win of the 2017 road season for Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team.
“It’s a really great feeling to win in the rainbow jersey,” Dideriksen said. “I had hoped to take a win this season. To do it today is amazing.”
The Dane’s victory came from a late race breakaway that escaped from an elite selection that formed over the third and final ascent of the VAMberg. Former Boels-Dolmans rider Ellen van Dijk had launched a powerful acceleration up the man-made hill and pocketed 30 seconds almost immediately.
With five of 15 riders in the group behind, Boels-Dolmans assumed responsibility and control of the chase, sending Olympic road champion Anna van der Breggen, 2016 Ronde van Drenthe winner Chantal Blaak, Amy Pieters and Jip van den Bos to the front. Dideriksen sat fifth wheel.
“From the beginning, we had talked about having me as the sprinter if we ended up in a big group,” explained Dideriksen. “By the end of the race, when a sprint looked more likely, we saved me. When Ellen was away, it meant all the other girls chased, and I could sit on.
“They did an amazing job,” Dideriksen said. “Ellen is a strong rider, and it took a lot of energy for them to get her back. Sitting on like that, it’s a lot of responsibility. I had pressure in the end not only to get a result for myself but for my teammates, who worked so hard for me.”
The Boels-Dolmans train handily made quick work of the task at hand and caught Van Dijk just before the 20-kilometre mark. Blaak immediately countered the catch. Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) chased down Blaak. Van den Bos countered Brand.
Attack after attack after attack until…
“I ended up being in the move that stayed away,” said Dideriksen. “We had to cover so many attacks and counter-attacks. I don’t really remember exactly how the move I was in formed.”
The four riders in the breakaway represented four different teams. CANYON//SRAM had Cecchini. Team Sunweb had Brand. Wiggle-High5 had UCI Women’s WorldTour overall leader Elisa Longo Borghini.
“Everybody in the group was turning,” Dideriksen said. “We didn’t know if we’d stay away until the end. It was 10-15-10 seconds. If we started playing games and waiting to work until the sprint, we would have been caught. It was only in the last kilometre that we started to look around at each other.”
“There were some fast riders in there,” added Dideriksen. “I believed Cecchini would be the fastest of them. I thought I could out-sprint them all, but you never know after a race of 153 kilometres. I’ve never raced that long before.”
Longo Borghini, handy in the hills but less suited to sprint finishes, jumped first.
“We shut that down quickly,” said Dideriksen.
Brand led through the last corner followed by Cecchini.
“I thought I had lost it there,” Dideriksen admitted. “There were two in front of me, and I didn’t want that. I still managed to get them in the sprint.”
Dideriksen won by a bike length with enough of a gap to celebrate across the line. Along with the race win, she earned the UCI Women’s WorldTour youth classification jersey for her efforts.
“It’s a really big win for me,” said Dideriksen. “It means a lot. I’m grateful to have the opportunity from the team and to pay back my teammates who worked so hard for me.”