The UCI Women’s WorldTour continues on Saturday 12 March in Hoogeveen with the Ronde van Drenthe. World champion Lizzie Armitstead won in Hoogeveen the year before last and Ellen van Dijk, who is sidelined with a broken rib, has twice finished on the podium. Armitstead, who currently leads the UCI Women’s World Tour, headlines a strong Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team squad of six for the second race on the Women’s WorldTour calendar.
“I see two possibilities,” said Christine Majerus, when asked how she expects the race she will line up for on Saturday will unfold. “We have won three out of four European races already. Either other teams are over-motivated and will race hard to make us lose or they are scared and will look at us to take the initiative.
”I think we can expect a lot of attacks from the other teams, but we will attack too, so it should make an interesting race again.”
The 138-kilometre Ronde van Drenthe is ‘typically Dutch’ with narrow roads, hearty cobbles and wind-exposed sections. The man-made VAM-berg serves as the race’s most distinctive feature. The short but leg-breakingly steep hill has a maximum gradient of 23 percent. The women’s race includes three times up the VAM-berg – each an opportunity for the strongest teams and riders to weaken the rest.
“Drenthe is always a hectic race,” noted Majerus. “It’s turning a lot. The roads are narrow. After every corner there is the possibility of crosswind. It’s a stressful race for the riders because you need to stay concentrated the whole race.”
“These conditions are not a secret for us,” Majerus added. “We have shown plenty of times that we know how to race as a unit, and that’s the most important thing in this race.”
The Women’s WorldTour series is a 17-race, 35-day series running from March through September. Armitstead has twice won the World Cup overall (2014-2015), and, as the winner of Strade Bianche, she now leads the series the replacement series.
“I think it’s way too early to try and defend a jersey,” Majerus. “Defending often means riding with the hand-break, and that’s not our way of racing.”
Follow Ronde van Drenthe live on Twitter using #RondevDrenthe and #UCIWWT. Mechanic Richie Steege provides live tweets via @richiesteege, and we’ll be tweeting from @boelsdolmansct, too. Best part – the last 90 minutes of the race will be live streamed. Details on how to follow here:
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team for Ronde van Drenthe: