Ronde van Drenthe, Saturday 11th March 2017
Drentse Acht van Westerveld, Sunday 12th March 2017
After last weekend’s explosive start to the 2017 Women’s World Tour, at the Strade Bianche the peloton has moved to the Netherlands, and a very different type of Classic.
You all know I love the Ronde van Drenthe for the man-made climb, the VAM-berg, that grows every couple of years, as more landfill is added (it’s currently 44m tall, with an average gradient of 13%, max 21%, and if you want to know more, I love this piece about the climb on Rouleur). Then there are the seven sections of “cobbles”, 13.2km in total, including some infamous sections – rocks thrown off a truck to enable vehicles to travel down sandy paths through forests, that are known for sharp edges and the slippery, mossy surface. But above all, its known as a race where positioning is the ultimate skill. There are the open fields, where if it’s windy (and it usually is) echelons form and unwary riders are dropped out of contention – and there are the narrow lanes, with sharp corners into the climb and cobbles, that everyone wants to get to first. On top of that, the town circuit in Hoogeveen has technical corners – around 8 in the last 3km, and 3 90º corners in the last kilometre. I love this race because it’s been won in so many different ways, from solo attacks to a bunch gallop, or from a small group that gets away and then attacks each other like crazy.
But above all, I love it because it’s the women’s bike race we can reliably see live – the last hour and maybe more are streamed, free to air, on at least 2 local Dutch TV stations.
The Ronde van Drenthe starts on Saturday 11th March at 11:15 European CET (10:15am UK GMT; 9:15pm Australian AEST; 5:15am North American EDT) and is due to finish around 15:00 CET (2pm GMT; 1am AEST; 9am EDT).
The TV starts at 14:00 CET (1pm GMT; midnight AEST; 8am EDT) and the streams are on RTV Drenthe and RTV Oost. They tend to get a little bit overloaded, so I start mine a bit early. The commentary is in Dutch, but Dan and I will be doing our own commentary on Mixlr, if you want to hear that (it’s an audio stream that you can listen to alongside the video) – check out my twitter for the exact address.
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 there’s also a Ronde van Drenthe app. Hartelijk Dank! There’s usually a race ticker too, which I think will be here – and of course, I have my list of live race tweeters who’ll be updating from team cars at the roadside.
The Ronde van Drenthe has a fantastic weekend festival of cycling, with races for handcycles, men, kids, and sportives, and there’s lots of information on the race website – including the Ronde van Drenthe racebook. The route is from page 12, with maps from page 16. There’s also a startlist here under Deelnemers (though I’m using Cycling Fever’s as it’s more up-to-date).
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 in 2015, 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 Drentse Acht
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. There will be highlights on RTV Drenthe as well, which I’ll pull together as well.
The race starts at 13:00 CET (12pm UK GMT; 7am North American EDT; 11pm Australian AEST) and is due to finish around 16:45 CET (3:45pm GMT; 10:45am EDT; 2:45am AEST).
The routemap is from page 10 in the technical guide – although there are two climbs of the VAM, they’re in the middle of the race, so this one is one for the sprinters…. on paper!
There should 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.
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.