Van Vleuten & Barras give us an insight into the coming Women's WorldTour race, Ronde van Drenthe

Thu 9 Mar 2017

ORICA-SCOTT women are in a great position heading to the second race of the Women’s WorldTour series, Ronde van Drenthe on Saturday 11th March.

The Australian outfit had a phenomenal start to the season in Australia and have been able to bring their form and successful momentum to Europe, already achieving two podium placings and a very respectable sixth and seventh place last weekend in the opening WorldTour event, Strade Bianche.

The team return to Ronde van Drenthe this season, not only confident in their form but with last year’s runner up Gracie Elvin in the team line-up.

“We are coming off two really good week ends of racing,” explained sport director Martin Barras. “The team has consistently delivered good numbers into the finales and we expect the upcoming week end to be no different.” 

“In Gracie Elvin and Annemiek Van Vleuten (second in 2010) we have established performers in these races and are counting on Georgia Williams' and Sarah Roy's experience there to support them deep into the finale.”

“The core of the race is that you have to be a super sharp racer to get a result in Drenthe. The flat lands are battered by the north sea wind, meaning echelons will discard those that are poor at positioning and fighting for a spot. 

“If you think that the cobbles of Roubaix make the flemish ones look like an Autobahn, the Drenthe cobbles make the Roubaix ones look like a race track.

“As if this was not enough, the cold and the rain just chews your energy out, which makes the final passages over the man made hill that is the VAM-berg feel like climbing up a glue wall.

“Only a real fit, highly skilled, experienced and motivated pro tends to come out at the other end of these races and still fight for the win.”

Double Australian champion Katrin Garfoot and Australian criterium champion Jessica Allen add to strength and depth to the ORICA-SCOTT line up, as local rider van Vleuten provides a wealth of experience to the team having also finished inside the top ten last year.

“Drenthe is always special to race,” said the winner of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road race van Vleuten. “With the combination of cobbles, wind, possible cold bad weather and the short steep climb, where the fight to position yourself within the first ten can be the hardest part, then you have all the ingredients for an epic race.”

“We are riding pretty good together at the moment, we are often in front at the moments we have to be in front and this can be very helpful for a lot of team action."

The 2017 edition of the race will follow a similar route to the previous editions with three ascents of the short steep VAM-Berg, plus seven sections of rough cobbles. However, for 2017 a new UCI rule allows for longer distances in women’s events with Ronde van Drenthe giving the riders their first taste of this, with a total distance of 152.2kilometres. 

“I hope there will be a lot of wind because I like epic races that are hard,” continued van Vleuten. “I prefer when we can go to the finish with a small group. The race is now also longer which is very good for the girls that are trained well and I think this is an advantage for us.”

ORICA-SCOTT riders for Ronde van Drenthe (11th March):

Jessica Allen –  (AUS 23)

Georgia Williams - (NZL 23)

Grace Elvin -  (AUS 28)

Katrin Garfoot -  (AUS 35)

Sarah Roy - (AUS 31)

Annemeik van Vleuten -(NED 34)

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