The Sunday before Flèche Wallonne and it’s time for the 11th edition of the Women’s Ronde van Gelderland.
The race is based in Apeldoorn, right in the middle of the Netherlands, at the velodrome which has hosted both European and World Track Championships since it opened in 2008. The warm, still conditions inside the velodrome couldn’t be more different than those experienced during the race where it’s likely to be cool and strong winds that racing in the Netherlands in famed for is often the defining feature of the race.
Last year’s winner, Suzanne de Goede won her second Ronde van Gelderland title by outsprinting Chantal Blaak after a break of six escaped in the final 30 kilometres of the race.
|2003||Yvonne Brunen||Leontien van Moorsel||Vera Koedooder|
|2004||Leontien van Moorsel||Mirjam Melchers||Arenda Grimberg|
|2005||Suzanne de Goede||Tanja Hennes||Kirsten Wild|
|2006||Bertine Spijkerman||Tanja Hennes||Mirjam Melchers|
|2007||Marianne Vos||Ina-Yoko Teutenberg||Loes Markerink|
|2008||Anne Samplonius||Eva Lutz||Andrea Bosman|
|2009||Ina-Yoko Teutenberg||Rochelle Gilmore||Emma Johansson|
|2010||Kirsten Wild||Rochelle Gilmore||Kristy Broun|
|2011||Ina-Yoko Teutenberg||Kirsten Wild||Rochelle Gilmore|
|2012||Suzanne de Goede||Chantal Blaak||Megan Guarnier|
Being a UCI Class 2 event there’s 40 points for the winner through to 3 points for 8th place. Whilst the top 20 will share a prize fund of €1,645.
Departing Apeldoorn and heading south. The initial climbs will get the atheletes’ hearts pumping and make breathing heavier. The steepest of the six early climbs being Monnikensteeg at a little under a kilometre long the average gradient is 4.4%.
On their own, any one of these climbs shouldn’t pose too much of an issue but after 6 of them back to back some riders will almost inevitably be dropped. After the initial climbs it’s flat to the finish, just under 100km away. Yet it is this flat section that defines the race more than any of the early climbs.
The course repeatedly turns off the main roads and onto narrow lanes that often become little more than gravel tracks. The peloton gets strung out on these narrow sections and then the howling winds tear the line of riders apart. The gaps can then open quickly and if you find yourself on the wrong side of one of those gaps it can take a monumental effort to bridge across.
It will be a battle to get to near the front and then try and stay there all afternoon!