Ronde van Drenthe: the reactions

Written by: Niels Goudriaan
Posted 1 month ago

Whether it’s been due to COVID, foot-and-mouth disease, or snow, these situations forced Femmy van Issum, race organizer of the Ronde van Drenthe to cancel the race three times in the past. Nevertheless, this last weekend marked the 60th edition of the Tour of Drenthe and the 17th edition for the women. Specifically, it was named the ‘’Albert Achterhes Profronde of Drenthe’’, named after Femmy van Issum’s father, who initiated the first Tour of Drenthe in 1960. Before his death, he passed on the responsibility of the cycling race to his daughter.

 Approaching 83, Van Issum finds no appeal in resting, her life still revolves entirely around the Tour of Drenthe. Despite physical ailments common with age, she mentally remains sharp and dedicated, thanks to a lifetime of engagement with the event. Her husband Huub, with whom she’ll soon celebrate sixty years of marriage, would prefer to step back from organizing the race, but their life has always been intertwined with the Tour of Drenthe.

 However, she expresses concern for the event’s future, citing police shortages and environmental restrictions as significant challenges. She fears for the survival of classic races, worrying that they might lose their essence and become mere cycling rounds rather than a true Tour of Drenthe.

 

In the aftermath of the 17th edition of de Ronde van Drenthe,  Pro Cycling Women caught up with winner Lorena Wiebes, runner up Lisa Balsamo, young revelation Puck Pieterse, only breakaway rider of the day, Valerie Demey and the contender Lily Williams, who had to be in the chase twice to get back in the peloton

 

Lorena Wiebes

The podium ceremony in Drenthe has always been the longest one. Local sponsors always have a lot to give away. The winner goes home with a brand new flatscreen tv. Lorena Wiebes now earned four of them. “I just moved to another apartment, so I have more room for them.” Said Lorena with a wide smile after being asked if she has enough space for her 4 tv’s.

Wiebes came to Drenthe with one objective: to win for the fourth consecutive time. And her whole team helped her throughout the race to achieve this. “The team did a really good job, especially Christine (Majerus red.) with the last lead out. Yeah, she put me in perfect position.” The happy Dutch rocket moved to Limburg to train more on uphill finishes, and it paid off. “I train more on the small climbs and I’m enjoying that also more than the flat.”

With the fourth win on her palmares, Lorena Wiebes thanks everyone in her Sdworx-Protime team to move on to the next one: Nokere.

The team did a really good job, especially Christine (Majerus red.) with the last lead out. Yeah, she put me in perfect position

Elisa Balsamo

The other sprinter that is performing well uphill is Italian Champion Elisa Balsamo. Finishing second in Drenthe, but happy with her performance: “I think that I did a good race. At the end I was really tired, but I just try my best and I’m happy about my second place.” Also, Balsamo is training on the uphill finishes, knowing that her direct competitor, Wiebes, is fast uphill. “I always try my best and I’m training hard to try to improve day by day.” In the cold evening, just before getting into the warm car the Lidl-Trek rider told us quickly that she is looking forward to the next race, her home race, at Trofeo Binda in the Varese area in Italy.

 

Puck Pieterse

Puck Pieterse of Fenix-DeCeuninck is the newest revelation in road cycling. As the bronze medalist from the cyclocross World Championships in Tabor this year, Pieterse is now focusing on the road season. Her 8th place in Omloop het Nieuwsblad gave her enough confidence to sprint for the victory in Drenthe after a small attack, just falling short for Wiebes and Balsamo. “It was a nice race with a lot of hectic racing because every time it was really small and there was a part with quite some crosswinds, but I managed to stay mostly out of trouble, luckily. Then in the end I tried something on the last, final lap, but that didn’t work out, unfortunately. “The young Dutch rider choose a good wheel that landed her the third place in Drenthe. She looks really comfortable in the peloton, like she is riding in the bunch for many years already.” I’m happy about my positioning today. Sometimes it was a bit dangerous, I think, but that makes it more fun also.”

 

Valerie Demey

Only one breakaway rider in today’s episode of the Ronde van Drenthe, Valerie Demey. The Belgian rider of Volker Wessels Women’s Team hoped someone would follow her in the attack to have a better shot of staying out there until the finish line. “I thought, thought it was a good moment to go because it was really hectic beginning, and at that moment, the bunch was a bit like, poof. So I was like, okay, now I go. But there was no one joining me. So, yeah, then I thought, what should I do? But then I thought, they gave me two and a half minutes. However, this is exactly why the team signed her, to attack and show her colors. ” Yeah, of course. And why not? Because we have to be realistic. If the good girls go, then it’s hard to follow. So, you have to try something to be in the final of the race. And I tried something, and, yeah, I am happy about it.”

Lily Williams

The story of Human Health Power Lily Williams. The American was out for quite some time due to a broken shoulder and had hoped for a great come back for the start of the European classics, where Drenthe is the perfect warm up. “I feel really strong. I must admit, today had quite a lot of bad luck and just hectic in the bunch and, yeah, went down two laps to go, but was able to get back because the bunch was slow. So, yeah, just every race is progress.”

Although racing from the first race in the Australian races and Spanish races early in the season to get the kilometers back in her legs, Drenthe was the first big test where the best of the best started. Although having to get back in the bunch twice, the American looked strong and might be a contender for some classics in the next coming races. Nokere is her first next try.

 Next race coming up in the Women’s WorldTour is Trofeo Alfredo Binda in Cittiglio, Italy

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