Chantal Blaak took her second victory of the year and the fifth road win for Boels-Dolmans at Ronde van Drenthe today. The spring classic in the Netherlands forms the second round of the Women’s World Tour and is characterised by stretches of cobbles, and the man-made ‘VAM-berg’ which averages 17 per cent and tops out at over 20 per cent.
Early on in the race, four riders managed to build up a distance between themselves and the rest of the peloton – they being Blaak, Trixi Worrack (Canyon-SRAM), Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS) and Rabo-Liv’s Anna van der Breggen.
A chase group did form to catch them, and with around 30km to go they were rejoined with the peloton – including last year’s winner, Jolien D’Hoore – and it did seem that the breakaway might be caught. However, it wasn’t to be – when the peloton ascended the Vam-berg for the third and final time they were still two minutes down on the front of the race.
The four took the race down to a sprint, with Blaak in first, Elvin second, and Worrack slotting in to third place.
— UCIWomenCycling (@UCIWomenCycling) March 12, 2016
Blaak has said following the finish: “I’ve been racing Drenthe since 2008, and I’m so happy that I’m finally able to win here. I didn’t expect that we could ride away so early in the race. Sixty kilometres from the finish, I led the peloton onto the last cobblestones, and just after that section, we were away with the four of us. The cooperation was good, and my choice was to gamble for the sprint.”
— Boels-Dolmans (@boelsdolmansct) March 12, 2016
Leader of the Women’s World Tour after round one – Strade Bianche – Lizzie Armitstead pulled out of the race mid-way through. The team has tweeted that she’s been ill since Tuesday, and that Blaak was always the rider the team was backing. This means Armitstead will lose the leader’s jersey for now, but there are still plenty more rounds to come…