Ronde van Drenthe Marks Start of World Cup Racing

Fri 8 Mar 2013

With Drentse 8, the first of a quick succession of Dutch races in the Drenthe region, still fresh in the legs, ORICA-AIS is preparing for the first round of the 2013 World Cup series on Saturday. The Australian outfit brings much experience to the Ronde van Drenthe start line with two former winners – Emma Johansson in 2009 (third in 2012) and Loes Gunnewijk in 2010.

The team has had great success thus far in Belgium and Holland and will be satisfied with nothing less than a win in Hoogeveen. Johansson has expressed tremendous confidence in the team.

“The team’s strength is that we have many strong riders who can be present in the final kilometres,” explained Johansson. “This will allow us to have numbers in the group that we anticipate forming after the cobble sections and VAMberg."

The World Cup course will feature similar attributes to those the riders saw just two days prior at Drentse 8 and the previous three races in Belgium – narrow roads littered with ‘road furniture’ and treacherous sections of cobbles where the most powerful and skilled riders will emerge ahead of the rest.

The gruelling 132.8 kilometre Ronde van Drenthe starts and finishes in the town of Hoogeveen. After rolling out from the start town, the riders do one big loop through Emmen before circling back for two smaller loops near the start town. Just 9.4 kilometres into the race the riders will tackle the VAMberg (a former garbage dump turned grassy knoll averaging 9.7%) for the first time. At the 50 kilometre mark, the peloton will hit the first of three sections of cobbles tucked away into the dark, wet forest. The peloton typically splinters as it navigates its way over the dicey cobbles.

“The main challenges on the first big loop will be the cobble sections,” noted Johansson. “The entrance of the first one is always fast and with a sharp corner, so once again position is important.”

As the legs start to fatigue, the second push over the VAMberg historically further split the front of the peloton.

“Race organisers have added a piece onto the VAMberg this year,” said Johansson. “The increase in length should make the climb a bit harder.”

Just 12 kilometres from the finish, the women will hit the VAMberg for the final time. Here, fireworks will fly. Tenacious and aggressive riding will win the race – whether from a break, a bunch sprint or solo. Racing in Holland is usually characterized by windy, wet conditions so it’s anyone’s guess what will happen at the finish line in 2013.

ORICA-AIS for Ronde van Drenthe:

Amanda Spratt (@amandaspratt)
Emma Johansson (@emmaprocyclist)
Gracie Elvin (@gracieelvin)
Jessie MacLean (@aussiejessmac)
Loes Gunnewijk (@loesgunnewijk)
Tiffany Cromwell (@tiffanycromwell

In 2010, Loes powered away from the small break to win Ronde van Drenthe in sensational style – solo. Watch here.

In 2009, Emma outsprinted her five breakaway companions to win Ronde van Drenthe as the main peloton finished only mere seconds behind. Watch here.