The International Cycling Union (UCI) Women's World Cup heads to the Netherlands for its third round, where current leader Marianne Vos (Nederland Bloeit) will show off the jersey to the hometown fans in Drenthe.
Vos, winner of this year's Trofeo Alfredo Binda, a five-time world champion across three disciplines and Olympic gold medalist, has never won her home World Cup and will be keenly motivated to score her first victory here.
Last year it was Swede Emma Johansson (Red Sun) who won the Unive World Cup from a small breakaway, with Vos taking second in the bunch sprint behind German powerhouse Ina Teutenberg from the bunch for eighth.
Teutenberg’s HTC-Columbia team is a force to be reckoned with in any race, but have so far been shut out of victory in the World Cups. The Women's Tour of Flanders went the way of newcomer Grace Verbeke of the Lotto team, who soloed to the win despite the efforts of both Judith Arndt and Noemi Cantele in the chase for HTC-Columbia.
Johansson took fourth in the race behind Vos and Cervélo sprinter Kirsten Wild, and is clearly on good form for a repeat win in Drenthe.
The Ronde van Drenthe is largely flat, but is by no means an easy race. Wind, cobbled sectors and one short, sharp climb combine to make the course worthy of the World Cup title.
The race begins with a large loop starting in Hoogeveen, with three intermediate sprints to keep things rolling along before riders head back for the tough short laps that take in the area's only real elevations change: the Vamberg.
The riders actually take in the 380m, 10% grade of the landfill climb three times during the race. The first trip up will likely be of little consequence as it comes just 9.4 km into the 135km race.
The second trip comes at kilometre 88, and can be a factor in splitting the bunch. But it is the final trip with 12.8km to go which makes or breaks the race. From the descent of the KOM it is a flat run-in to the finish where the sprinters teams will have one last chance to reel in any breakaways before the line.
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