Three-time winner Marianne Vos will return to the Ronde van Drenthe to headline the WM3 Pro Cycling Team at this Saturday's race. Vos has not raced the Dutch one-day event since 2013, when she won her third consecutive title.
Joining Vos at the race will be Lauren Kitchen, Anouska Koster, Anna Plichta, Jeanne Korevar and Moniek Tenniglo.
The Ronde van Drenthe is the second round of the Women's WorldTour, which kicked off last weekend at Strade Bianche. WM3 Pro Cycling earned their first podium finish on the road at the Italian WorldTour opener with Kasia Niewiadoma but the Polish champion will not be racing in the Netherlands with the flatter course better suited to the quick finishers.
After racing cyclo-cross initially this season, finishing second at the World Championships in January, Vos opened her road account at the weekend. She missed the key break and came home in 17th, but Drenthe is a better opportunity for her to get off the mark in 2017.
Vos dominated the race, best known for its ascent of the VAM-berg – a man-made hill over the site of an old refuse dump – between 2011 and 2013. Injuries have hampered her career of late and she delayed her start to the 2016 season until the Drentse Acht van Westerveld the following day.
This year's Ronde van Drenthe has taken advantage of the new UCI rules that allow organisers to create routes of up to 160km for one-day races, pushing the total distance from 138km to 152km. It includes three ascents of the VAM, the highest point in the region, and several sectors of pave. More often than not, the event has concluded with a small group of riders duking it out for the win. Last season saw Chantal Blaak beating Gracie Elvin and Trixi Worrack for the title.
As well as their line-up for the Ronde van Drenthe, WM3 Pro Cycling also confirmed the six riders that will compete at the Drentse Acht van Westerveld. Vos will sit out, as will Kitchen and Plichta. Coming in to fill their spots will be Rotem Gafinovitz, Yara Kastelijn and Riejanne Markus. Koster finished third at last year's edition for Rabo-Liv, the team's name at the time, losing out to Leah Kirchmann and Christine Majerus.
The Drentse Acht van Westerveld is shorter than its WorldTour sister at 143km and takes on just two climbs of the VAM-berg. For this reason, the finishing group, while small, is generally larger than Saturday's race.
WM3 Pro Cycling for the Ronde van Drenthe: Marianne Vos, Lauren Kitchen, who has enjoyed a solid start to the season, Anouska Koster, Anna Plichta, Jeanne Korevar and Moniek Tenniglo.
WM3 Pro Cycling for the Drentse Acht van Westerveld: Anouska Koster, Rotem Gafinovitz, Yara Kastelijn and Riejanne Markus, Jeanne Korevar and Moniek Tenniglo.