This week we revisit all of the excitement from the Women’s World Tour at the Ronde van Drenthe. There’s more great racing from Drentse 8 and Setmarna Ciclista Valenciana. On top of this we have several really good articles about ways to improve women’s cycling to discuss and there’s been some interesting news in regards to British Cycling, and Jeannie Longo’s husband Patrice Ciprelli. Of course we can’t finish on a downer so we also take note of some of the fun stuff we’ve seen around the web this week. As always, heaps of links and videos in the post on the website!
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News and videos from the last week in women’s cycling
This week’s racing
Videos, photos and more from the excellent Ronde van Drenthe in this post here.
Drentse Acht van Westerveld
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 celebrate our vindication for having such lofty expectations of Strade Bianche. It was such an exciting and gripping race with one of the most exciting finales we’ve seen in recent years. Once we’re done recapping that (it takes a while)we take a look ahead at the Ronde van Drenthe, and then we get into an interesting and maybe controversial proposal for a new race series. (1:36:58 MIN / 88.79 MB)
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Check back in a few hours, Sarah will have all the links updated for you shortly!
Things we talked about this week included
This week’s racing
Videos from Strade Bianche to come
The 2017 Paracycling Track World Championships
Photos from the UCI’s facebook – Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4
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:
Yesterday I put up my podcast interview with Classics star and cycling tactical genius Loes Gunnewijk, and I know I’m biased, but you should really head over and listen to that, because I love the way Loes talks about winning Classics, her London Olympic experience, and the sheer enjoyment in her voice when she talks about racing on tough cobbles in cold, windy, nasty weather!
But because I know you’re not all podcast people, I’ve adapted parts of it below for you to read, including her tips for racing the Classics, the problems for the Dutch at the Olympics, her descriptions of the Spring World Tour races, retiring from cycling and more.
It doesn’t have everything, so you’ll have to listen for Loes’ experiences on the UCI Directeur Sportif course, and tons more. And with the second Women’s World Tour race, the Ronde van Drenthe taking place tomorrow, we’ll start with her talking about racing – and winning – at Drenthe.
ProWomensCycling: We’re in one of the most exciting times of the year, right at the beginning of the season. I always thought of you as a Classics rider, but I look at your palmares and you were good at all kinds of races. Which did you like best?
LG: Spring Classics! I love them, especially when you have spring weather – and my spring weather is different from what a lot of people would call nice spring weather! My ideal spring racing weather is 6-8º, windy, maybe a little bit of rain. Especially for the races with cobbled sections, that’s wonderful. It has to be cold and windy – not sunny, calm and 15º, that’s for summer style.