Mitchelton-SCOTT women primed for ‘hard’ Drenthe weekend

Wed 7 Mar 2018

Having washed the mud of Strade Bianche away, Mitchelton-SCOTT women will continue their 2018 Classics campaign in Holland this weekend with Drentse Acht van Westerveld on Friday and round two of the UCI Women’s WorldTour Ronde van Drenthe on Sunday.

In typical Dutch style, the two races are much more than on paper, with wind and weather making them unpredictable in nature – past results differing from bunch sprints, small groups and solo winners. 

Mitchelton-SCOTT welcome back Jolien D’hoore, who won the Ronde van Drenthe race in 2015, following her silver medal in the scratch race at the Track World Championships. She is joined by Classics specialist Gracie Elvin who finished second in the same event the following year.

Jessica Allen (AUS, 24)
Jolien D’hoore (BEL, 27)
Gracie Elvin (AUS, 29)
Sarah Roy (AUS, 31)
Georgia Williams (NZL, 24) 

The courses:
The course profile says little to define these races, with small climbs in the middle of racing on paper nothing to be of ‘concern’. Instead it’s the potential wind, changes in direction, movement between thin narrow road to wide open areas and sectors of cobbles that will prove crucial. 

Some small changes in the WorldTour race see the peloton head straight into the cobbles much earlier than past years as well as an increase to four repeats up the VAMberg climb.

Race history:
Elvin’s second place in 2016 is Mitchelton-SCOTT’s best ever performance at WorldTour event Ronde van Drenthe but new rider D’hoore bring an extra boost with her 2015 victory. 

Former rider Valentina Scandolara holds the Australian team’s best performance at Drentse Acht van Westerveld in 2015 whilst Elvin has finish in the top ten the last two editions.

Martin Vestby – Sport Director:
“In general, it’s a lot about wind direction and that defines a lot how the race can unfold ad well as going from really small, narrow roads to open fields. The race can be won or lost at any point, it’s hard to predict. 

“I think we’d be looking more likely at a sprint in the first race, Drentse Acht van Westerveld, as it’s a bit easier to control and not as hectic.

"With some small changes in the WorldTour race it can be harder to control the race and numbers will be important in the end and I think we need to play it a bit more open. But, it’s a race we can make some good results in a bigger sprint or a small breakaway.”

Gracie Elvin – 2nd 2016 Ronde van Drenthe:
“Drenthe always stands out in riders’ minds as one of the toughest weekends of the year. The course isn’t the hardest we race but almost every rider I know has a good war story from there. In particular, the World Tour race is deceptively tough. The cobbles are much rougher than Belgian ones, and the weather is usually pretty grim. 

“The wind often plays a part and by the end of the race you have spent everything on just being in the front group. The winner has to be smart and conserve energy all day. Sometimes a split in the bunch will mean it’s day over for many riders. You have to be ready for anything. 

“I really like these races. They suit my strengths and racing style. My second place two years ago was special and I hope to go one better this year, or help a teammate to the podium. My form is coming along really well and the rest of the team is also very strong at the moment. I am really excited to give it everything.”

Jolien D’Hoore – 2015 Ronde van Drenthe winner:
“Drenthe is always a hard race, the wind and the cobbles are especially decisive in the race. 

“No matter what the weather is, there is always enough wind to split up the field. It can happen everywhere, so we need to be switched on the whole race. It’s always unpredictable and could be a ‘bunchie or breakaway. That’s what I like about racing in Holland.

“I hope to do well with the team. We have more than one card to play and there is some serious horsepower in our team. Together we can achieve a lot.”

The races:
Friday, 9 March: Drentse Acht van Westerveld
Sunday, 11 March: Ronde van Drenthe (WWT)