It’s dawn on a Saturday morning. While most people on the west coast are still asleep, women’s cycling fans are falling out of bed, fumbling with their coffee machines and tuning into the first road World Cup race of the season – Ronde Van Drenthe, said to be the closest equivalent to the men’s Paris-Roubaix.
Despite the bleary eyes, fans weren’t disappointed. Last weekend Drenthe encompassed everything you could possibly want out of a spring classic: cobbles, riders using harsh crosswinds to tactical perfection and endless attacks up VAMberg.
The entire race was action packed. Rabobank-Liv duped the peloton and got two of their racers off the front, Ellen van Dijk showed why she’s world time trial champion by closing the gap and successfully launching her teammate Lizzie Armitstead over the VAMberg and on to victory. Armitstead won in convincing fashion and proved she will be a force to be reckoned with this season.
The UCI released a 26 minute video of the race, and will continue to produce highlights for each of the eight remaining world cups. If you’re looking for a inside look into Drenthe, Chloe Hosking examines the race in fascinating detail on her blog and is honest about when her team, Hitec, made mistakes and what they learned from them.
The world cup was one of three races in Drenthe. Molecaten Drentse 8, supposed to be a sprinters race, ended in a surprise move when Specialized Lululemon’s Chantal Blaak’s audacious final attack earned her the win. The Novilon Eurocup returned to the VAM, and ended in a fight between breakaway artists and the sprinters. Kirsten Wild, who’s already stamped her dominance all over the season, won the race.
The series returns March 30 with the infamous Trofeo Binda. Just as Drenthe is a typical Dutch race, Binda a prime example of the best racing Italy has to offer. Weaving its way through gorgeous Italian countryside, the race is 121 km long and one of the toughest World Cup races on the calendar. It’s an achievement to finish, let alone win. Starting with a figure of eight loop up to Lake Maggiore, the course follows the river valley on the way out, but incorporates a significant climb at Grantola before returning to Cittiglio. Then, the route takes a nasty turn with four loops of a circuit including the vicious Orino climb and a tough, technical descent on the backside. It’s a race that can be won in lots of different ways – from solo attacks to small breaks and could even finish in a group sprint. Here’s a promo video I found from 2013.
Girl Bike Love will update you on how to follow Binda soon, but in the meantime, subscribe to the UCI’s YouTube channel to see a short highlights clip shortly after the race ends, and another 25 minute highlights video within a week.
If you have questions, comments or just want to talk cycling with Clara, you can find her on Twitter at @ferncoyote.