Chantal Blaak of Boels Dolmans won Ronde van Drenthe on Saturday, beating Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS) and Trixi Worrack (Canyon SRAM) who were second and third respectively. Anna van der Breggen (RaboLiv) was forth, bringing her the World Tour leaders jersey. Full results can be found here, video of the RTV Drenthe coverage here. The TV coverage starts at a controversial moment, which wasn’t apparent until after the race. Georgia Bronzini (Wiggle H5) tweeted that several riders had taken the pathway next to the second set of cobbles, and riders from other teams retweeted it. When zooming in on the first few moments of the TV coverage you can see this did happen. The peloton began breaking up on this section, and when the last set of cobbles were completed just past the middle of the race there was a further split to the front group, with the eventual top 4 riders riding away leaving Wiggle H5 behind. It truly was one of the strangest attacks as you can see at the 1hr 46min point on the TV coverage. (This wasn’t shown live but after Blaak had won.) At one point Elvin whips out an energy gel and doesn’t seem to realise she’s in the attacking group until Worrack zooms past. While it looks like echelons forming the wind was very low that day, with fine weather instead of the usual wind and rain. Perhaps this is why the teams who had probably been chosen for their cobbles and climbing skills couldn’t catch the front 4. Coupled with four teams who no longer had any incentive to do so as they had a rider in front, the race devolved into a straightforward battle between the leaders. They silently worked together right up to the very last corner, before Elvin attacked only to be outsprinted by Blaak. The rest of the riders came in 1min 49sec down, with Marta Bastianelli (Ale Cipollini 5th), a consistent Shelley Olds (Cylance 6th), Floortje Mackaij (Liv Plantur 7th), Lauren Kitchen (Hitec 8th), Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica AIS 9th) and Leah Kirchmann (Liv Plantur 10th) sprinting for points. Outside of the top 7 teams, Roxane Fournier (PC Futuroscope 86), Maria Guilia Confalonieri (Lensworld Zannata Etixx) and Monique van de Ree (Lares Waowdeals) completed the top 20 to go with Bastianelli’s 5th place. Wiggle H5 tweeted during the race that due to frustration and lack of co-operation from other teams they were calling it a day, an unusual move and there’s probably more to it than that. They posted a video of the after race discussion, which has the air of a head teacher demanding to know who let off the fire alarm on the last day of term. They seem to be going through some bad luck right now, let’s see how they do at Trofeo Binda on Sunday.
The day after was Drentse Acht van Westerveld, or Drentse 8 if you prefer m’lud. It wasn’t televised and there were no highlights apart from clips like this but from team reports it seemed to be a hard fought for race with Leah Kirchmann getting her first European pro win. Christine Majerus (Boels Dolmans) and Anouska Koster (RaboLiv) completed the podium respectively. After the last Vamberg climb a group of 13 riders broke away, including Marianne Vos in her first pro race of 2016. In the last 2km brought several attacks, with Kirchmann getting the win on the line. The top 10 were within 2 seconds of each other, including 9th for Coryn Rivera (UHC). Full results here.
Vos was 10th at Drentse 8, which she wasn’t expecting but is surely very happy about. She told Helden.nl that she is seeking a place on the Dutch team for Rio 2016 in an interview you can read in full here. We’ve bloody missed her haven’t we!