The 2018 Women's WorldTour is well underway after the opening round at Strade Bianche last weekend where Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) took the victory and the early series lead. The powerful Dutchwoman will line up to defend her series lead on home-soil during round two at Ronde van Drenthe in the Netherlands on March 11.
The weekend of racing is the start of the more traditional races. On Friday, March 9, the peloton will compete in the UCI 1.2 Drentse Acht van Westerveld, which uses parts of the same course as Ronde van Drenthe, and considered a warm-up for the Women's WorldTour event.
Sunday's Ronde van Drenthe is a 141km race that begins at the City Hall in Emmen. There are a series of early cobblestone sections before racing up the 'VAM-berg' climb four times. The climb traditionally encourages attacks ahead of a set of three finishing circuits and a flatter finish in Hoogeveen.
Past winners of Ronde van Drenthe include Amalie Dideriksen, Chantal Blaak, Jolien D'hoore, Lizzie Deignan and Marianne Vos.
While wearing her world champion's jersey in 2017, Dideriksen won the race in a four-way sprint. Elena Cecchini was second, Lucinda Brand was third, and Elisa Longo Borghini was fourth.
Van der Breggen leads the Women's WorldTour with 200 points ahead of Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) with 150 points and Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) with 125 points.
As always, Boels Dolmans lines out a strong team with both Van der Breggen and Dideriksen, along with current world champion and former winner Chantal Blaak, Jip van den Bos, Amy Pieters and Christine Majerus.
Canyon-SRAM will also field a powerful team that includes Alexis Ryan, who was second at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Tiffany Cromwell, Lisa Klein, Christa Riffel and Alice Barnes. Series runner-up Niewiadoma will not be competing in the weekend races but her stated goal for the early season is to do well in the Ardennes Classics.
Wiggle High5's Longo Borghini will also not line up, despite being third place in the series, but they will field a strong team with Kirsten Wild, who just secured three world titles in the Omnium, Scratch Race and Points Race on the track in Apeldoorn.
Ronde van Drenthe's 2015 champion Jolien D'hoore will be back with a strong Mitchelton-Scott team that includes Gracie Elvin, Georgia Williams and Sarah Roy.
Marianne Vos (Waowdeals Pro Cycling ) won the race three times (2011-2013) and will be starting her road season after taking a short break following cyco-cross.
Christina Siggaard will line up with Team Virtu Cycling after a strong start to the season that includes a surprise win at Omloop Het Niewsblad and eighth place at Omloop van het Hageland.
Team Sunweb are always a threat in the classics with Lucinda Brand, Coryn Rivera and Ellen Van Dijk, who won Omloop van het Hageland from a late-race solo attack.
Other strong contenders Lotta Lepistö (Cervelo Bigla), Marta Bastianelli and Chloe Hosking (Ale Cipollini), former two-time world champion Giorgia Bronzini (Cylance), Lauren Kitchen (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquaitaine Futuroscope) and Shannon Malseed (Tibco-SVB).