Every year I’m excited for the Ronde van Drenthe, and it never fails to disappoint! Of course, having around 50km of live streams and all the great highlights from different sources makes it easy to love, but really, this course sets us up for exciting racing, even on a day with absolutely no wind.
It’s all about positioning, as the roads are very narrow, with tight corners, so the race to the major course obstacles are full-on sprints. And these obstacles are tough, too: the unique cobbled paths in the forests, with mossy and sharp-edged rocks, rather than well-laid cobbles, and the three ascents of the VAM-berg, and artificial hill entirely made from landfill (read about it in Rouleur). And while the rest of it is flat, it’s know for tactical attacking throughout the race, but especially through the last 20k.
This year was fantastic, nail-biting right to the finish. Here’s the videos – UCI highlights, last half hour, and full replay.
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
This week we talk up a storm about all the racing that’s happened over the last week (and how it’s nice to get live video this week!). We catch up on Drenthe, Drentse8 and the ABSA Cape Epic. There’s another very open video from Wiggle High5 about their performance on the weekend. There’s been some really interesting articles come out that caught our attention as well – and as always we have heaps of links, videos, articles and more in the post below. Dan doesn’t actually pick a fight with anyone this week but we do invent a new board game. It’s a long one and it plumbs new depths of nerdery! (1:23:02 MIN / 76.02 MB)
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Things we talked about
This Cylance team intro video is like some promo for an awesome TV show:
This week’s racing
Every year the Ronde van Drenthe starts the season early with a big marker in the sand – this is how we can cover women’s road cycling! And in 2016 it excelled itself with so much media. I’ve got lots of videos (including home-made English commentary) from Round 2 of the Women’s World Tour, the Ronde van Drenthe, and some clips of Sunday’s Drentse Acht van Westerveld, including Marianne Vos on her first race back in the peloton.
It’s always a brilliant race – three times over a man-made climb, and four stretches of brutal, unique cobbles. It’s been won in every way from solo attacks, small groups and bunch sprints, so it’s always unpredictable and beautiful to watch. Let’s start with the entire re-run from RTV Oost (please do watch it there, because it’s so awesome that they did that, but if that goes, there’s a much lower-res back up) and the final few kilometres:
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
I posted a lot of videos, photos and links from the first round of the 2015 Road World Cup, the Ronde van Drenthe, and now we have the long highlights video from the UCI, commentated by Rochelle Gilmore & Ant McCrossan
So much racing! We talk all about the Omloop van het Hageland, and then head over the border (or in Dan’s view, two suburbs over) to Drenthe for three fantastic races, including the first round of the 2015 Road World Cup, the Ronde van Drenthe. Along the way we look at Loren Rowney’s crash in the Drentse 8, examine some tactics, and how analysis is completely dependent on hindsight, and wander all over the peloton.
(Because there was so much racing this week, we didn’t have time to talk CIRC, women’s wages or the proposed women’s World Tour, but we’ll be focusing on that next week)
As always we’ve got the videos and links to everything we talked about down below, but make sure you stream the podcast, we enjoyed it and we hope you do too. (56:38 MIN / 54.4 MB)
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This week’s racing
Full results and photos on the Lotto Cycling Cup website
All the videos, links and things over here, including Loren Rowney’s blog on that crash from her perspective
So many videos and photos – click here to watch the action!