Amalie Dideriksen once again showed maturity beyond her years, winning the Ronde van Drenthe, the second round of the Women’s WorldTour in the Netherlands on Saturday. The 20-year-old world champion patiently negotiated the four-woman sprint, winning with apparent ease ahead of Elena Cecchini and Lucinda Brand.
The victory was her own, and her Boels-Dolmans team’s, first win of the year.
With 20km to ride the Danish rider escaped Cecchini (Canyon-SRAM), Brand (Team Sunweb) and Strade Bianche winner, Elisa Longo-Borghini (Wiggle High5). Once clear, the group built a gap of around 15 seconds and cooperated well to hold off seven chasers, including strong sprinters Marianne Vos (WM3 Energie), Chloe Hosking (Alé-Cipollini) and British rider Alice Barnes (Drops.)
At 152km – by 25km the longest race of the season so far – the event was the first to take advantage of new UCI regulations allowing longer women’s races. Though the extra distance might have inspired cautious racing, it is more likely the early lack of wind which normally blows across the flat countryside, had most impact, making for a dull opening.
Though the peloton was stretched after 10km on the approach to the first of three ascents of the VAMberg – a short but steep climb over a landfill site – there was little action in the opening 50km.
Other than that climb and the otherwise flat terrain, the event is characterised by its sectors of cobbles. However, while a stretch of 33km, 13 of which were pavé, caused a split in the peloton, it failed to have a significant impact.
Instead it was high pace after the final sector, with 84km ridden, which caused the most damage, leaving a group of around 50 riders – just under half the peloton – to tackle the second ascent of the VAMberg, 113km in.
With the wind now blowing, a period of aggressive racing punctuated the five kilometres between climbs, and on the second former world time trial champion Ellen van Dijk attacked, dragging with her 15 chasers, including British riders Hannah and Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM and Drops respectively).
While van Dijk’s advantage built to over 30 seconds, last year’s dominant team, Boels-Dolmans were well represented and were left the close the gap, further tearing the group to pieces. By the time the Dutchwoman was caught, with 20km to go only 15 riders remained.
Here, rather than cover attacks Boels-Dolmans took the initiative, launching repeated counter-attacks from which the winning quartet was formed.
The result is the culmination of excellent team tactics by Boels-Dolmans, who once again proved their immense strength.
“It was the longest race I have ever done and I didn’t know how I would feel,” Dideriksen said after her victory. “ My team mates rode so well out there, when Ellen van Dijk was in the breakaway earlier they chased her back with me sitting on and saving myself for the sprint.
“It shows what a great team we are, we have some really strong riders and we had a lot of cards to play.”
The third round of the Women’s WorldTour takes place next week in Italy, where the peloton will contest the Trofeo Alfredo Binda near Milan, a race won by Lizzie Deignan for the last two years.
Ronde van Drenthe, Women’s WorldTour, 152km
1. Amalie Dideriksen (Den) Boels-Dolmans, in 3-51-17
2. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon-SRAM
3. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Team Sunweb, at same time
4. Elisa Longo-Borghini (Ita) Wiggle-High5, at 2 secs
5. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Orica-Scott, at 7 secs
6. Jolien D’Hoore (Bel) Wiggle-High5, at 9 secs
7. Marianne Vos (Ned) WM3 Energie
8. Alice Barnes (GBr) Drops
9. Chantal Blaak (Ned) Boles-Dolmans
10. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Alé-Cipollini, all at same time