Ronde van Drenthe Women’s World Tour: Saturday 12th March
Drense Acht van Westerveld: Sunday 13th March
After the Strade Bianche opened the Women’s World Tour on Saturday, the races are coming weekly for the next month. Ronde van Drenthe has been one of the most reliable and easy women’s cycling races to watch for years, and is always a great show – one of those races that when it was a Road World Cup has been won every way from solo effort to small group to bunch sprint.
And it’s such a fun course – three time over the weirdest climb in procycling, the VAM-berg, a man-made hill that’s made out of landfill, and so grows every couple of years, and has an average gradient of 17.5%, getting to a max 23%. It’s definitely one for the punchy climbers out there. There there are three sections of cobbles, just 9.3km in total, but they’re really difficult. Annemiek van Vleuten described them as more like rocks just shoved off a truck than normal pavé, and they run through forests, so are covered with moss, and they usually burst the race apart. And if that’s not enough, there are the wide open sections through fields, where if there’s the slightest bit of wind (and it’s usually gales) there will be echelons forever – and some technical corners in Hoogeveen, with about eight 90º corners in the last 2.5k. Have I told you I love this race?
The race starts at 11:40 Euro CET (10:40am UK GMT; 9:40pm Aussie AEDT; 5:40am USA EST) and is due to finish between 15:07 and 15:18 CET (so from 2:07pm GMT; 1:07am AEDT; 9:07am EST)
There are TWO livestreams! The RTV Drenthe and RTV Oost livestreams are both showing it, and the feeds start on Saturday 12th March at 13:30 CET (12:30pm GMT; 11:30pm AEDT; 7:30am EST) which the RTV website says is live, with the men’s race TV from 16:00 CET. Keep an eye on the RTV Drenthe TV guide and RTV Oost guide in case anything changes, but they’re very reliable. The livestreams are both fabulously un-geo-restricted but get on it early because cycling fans tend to crash it.
That commentary will be in Dutch, but if you want some in English, superstar Bridie O’Donnell and I will be bringing our own unique spin on the race and doing our own commentary on the Prowomenscycling Mixlr that you can listen to. Open that in a tab in the background, and run one of the streams on mute and hopefully it’ll synch up. Head to Mixlr once the race starts, or find the exact link on my twitter – we’re going for the vibe of two cycling mates enjoying ourselves, one of whom has actually ridden the race, and hope you’ll like it too!
How to follow the race before the stream starts
There are so many reasons the Drenthe organisers are some of my favourites in the sport, and one of them is how easy they make it to follow the race, with a facebook, instagram, a superb twitter., and this year a special Ronde van Drenthe app. Hartelijk Dank! There’s usually a race ticker too, which I’ll edit in when it appears – and of course, I have my list of live race tweeters who’ll be updating from team cars at the roadside.
How to find out more about the Drenthe races – and the Drentse Acht
The Ronde van Drenthe has a fantastic weekend festival of cycling, and there’s lots of information on the race website.
The World Tour Ronde van Drenthe page has the route (also from page 16 of the technical guide) and the startlist (though I’m using Cycling Fever’s as it’s more up-to-date), and there will be lots of previews I’ll add in – like the Velorooms thread.
Race previews from the team of the 2016 season so far, Boels-Dolmans; Wiggle High5‘s on reigning champion Jolien D’hoore’s goals; Lotta Lepistö’s blog about the race on Cervélo-Bigla; and more previews from the Aviva Women’s Tour, ORICA-AIS‘ for both races, and Rabo-Liv. I love Road & Mud’s Riders to Watch. Janneke Ensing talks about being a local rider racing on home soil:
2010 winner Loes Gunnewijk told me how she won the race, with tons of insights into what it’s like to ride (including how to win Classics) which you can listen to or read; another Classics star, Martine Bras told me about the race too, which you can listen to and read; and last year, Boels Dolmans rider Chantal Blaak previewed the race in an interview, and you can listen to that here, and read a partial transcript over on Podium Café.
The hashtag for the Sunday Drenthe women’s race, the Drentse Acht van Westerveld, is #Drentse8. This one isn’t streamed live, but we can follow on twitter and the app as above, but is especially special this year, as it will be the first race Marianne Vos will be competing in this year.
There will be highlights of both races on RTV Drenthe’s youtube, and possibly RTV Oost’s and maybe on NOS Sport too. I’ll be posting things on my women’s cycling Tumblr, and on my twitter, as I see them, and I’ll pull my usual collection of links together after the races are all over.
If all that’s made you want more Drenthe, right now, watch the videos from last year’s World Cup, and from 2014, and 2013, and 2012 and 2011. I’m sure we’ll see a lot more media, previews and interesting things, so I’ll edit things in as I see them – and as always, if you find more, please do leave a comment here or tell me on twitter so I can share them – and of course, that’s the way you can ask any questions during the race, when I’ll be commentweeting happily, because this is always one of my favourites.
I’m funded to do this kind of women’s cycling work thanks to my wonderful Patreon supporters – thank you so much! If you want to join them from just £1.50/$2 a month, there’s more information here.