Defending champion Jolien D'hoore says that she hopes to make Boels Rental Ronde van Drenthe as exciting as it was last year when she won the World Cup ahead of runner-up Amy Pieters, who then raced for Liv-Plantur but now races with D’hoore on Wiggle High5, and third placed Ellen van Dijk (Boels Dolmans). It was especially exciting for D'hoore because she celebrated her 25th birthday on that day. She will aim to win the race for a second consecutive season.
No matter what the outcome of this year’s Ronde van Drenthe, held on March 12 in the Netherlands, it is certain to be an engaging event. Not only because it is one of the most prestigious women’s races in the world but because it is also the second instalment on the new Women’s WorldTour.
The UCI introduced the Women's WorldTour last fall, a 17-event series that combined the best one-day and stage races on the women’s calendar for a total of 35 days of racing. It replaced the long-running Women's World Cup, which last year had 10 one-day races.
The Women's WorldTour started on March 5 in Italy at Strade Bianche where world champion Lizzie Armitstead won and took the lead of the new series.
A race for the sprinters
Ronde van Drenthe is a great race for the sprinters. The 138.3km race will start and finish in Hoogeveen that includes several sections of pavé and punchy climbs.
The race will see many of the top teams in the UCI world ranking on the start line because organisers are obliged to invite the top 20 teams to one-day events. As such D'hoore's Wiggle High5 team will be present in full force with a roster that includes Pieters, Giorgia Bronzini and new recruit Emma Johansson, fresh off a third place at Strade Bianche.
Women's WorldTour leader, Armitstead, who won the race in 2014, will be on the start line with her Boels Dolmans team. The Briton has had an outstanding start to her season winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Strade Bianche, and is sure to impress yet again in the Netherlands. She will have support from US road champion Megan Guarnier and recent Le Samyn des Dames winner Chantal Blaak.
Former three-time winner of Ronde van Drenthe, Marianne Vos, will not be on the start line with her Rabo Liv team but announced her comeback for Sunday's Drentse Acht van Westerveld. Rabo Liv won't be short of horsepower with Anna van der Breggen and Lucinda Brand on the start line.
Canyon//SRAM will also have as strong team with Trixi Worrack, Lisa Brennauer and Tiffany Cromwell leading the charge. Orica-AIS will start recent Classics breakaway rider Gracie Elvin and their newcomer Annemiek Van Vleuten.
Cylance will start their sprint duo Shelley Olds and Valentina Scandolara, who have been on the podium this spring, joined alongside other American teams Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank and UnitedHealthcare.
Ale Cipollini will be starting their recent Omloop van het Hageland winner Marta Bastianelli, who is never to be discounted for a surprise win.