With their morale on a high after Judith Arndt's victory in the Tour of Flanders, High Road's women's team will tackle the Ronde Van Drenthe, the fourth round of the World Cup on Saturday.
The high point of a three-race series in and around Drenthe, the 136.6km event features a triple ascent of the notorious Vamberg climb. 750 metres long and with sections at a 20 percent gradient, the race features a number of cobbled sections. Narrow, twisting and frequently exposed roads, not to mention potentially bad weather, make the race a tough event, normally fraught with tension.
"The cobbles and tough terrain make Drenthe very similar in some ways to [men's one-day Classic] Paris-Roubaix," said High Road's sports director Petra Rossner. "You need both strength and skill to handle the cobbles well."
To multiply their options in a race which is usually wide-open, High Road will be racing with sprinter Ina-Yoko Teutenberg as well as Flanders' winner Arndt.
"She's our fastest rider in a bunch sprint, and that's always a plus to have that option." Rossner pointed out. Teutenberg finished fourth last year in the Dutch race and was the best finisher for her team. "But we've got a very strong, well-rounded line-up for the cobbles in any case. Any of our riders could perfectly well have won Flanders, in the end it came down to Judith but they're all in great condition."
"We're going to be flexible about what we can do, rather than just gamble on one particular outcome. Tactically Drenthe is not simple, the cobbles make it much harder, much more unpredictable, and you have to be able to change strategy very quickly. Drenthe not going to be easy to win, but we have a line-up which is definitely capable of doing so."
Team High Road for Ronde van Drenthe: Judith Arndt, Kate Bates, Chantal Beltman, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, Linda Villumsen, Oenone Wood.