Sunday’s second round of the 2019 Women’s WorldTour, the Ronde van Drenthe in Belgium, went to European champion Marta Bastianelli of Team Virtu Cycling, earning the Italian the series lead. Bastianelli beat out her two breakmates in a very close sprint. The WorldTour palmares of Sunday’s winner includes last year’s Gent-Wevelgem and third place in the 2016 Madrid Challenge by la Vuelta.

The CourseItalian

On a wet and windy day the riders squared off against 10 cobbled sections and four trips up the VAMBerg, a partly-cobbled climb built over a former waste dump. The final ascent of VAMberg was 50-km from the finish. Soon after the riders would enter a few small circuits around Hoogeveen which included the last two sections of cobbles. It was a long race at 165.7-km.

WorldTour Standings

It was a great opportunity for someone like Bastianelli, fourth place in Strade Bianche, to take the lead in the WorldTour, as no one from the series opener podium–Annemiek van Vleuten, Annika Langvad, Katarzyna Niewiadoma–was at Ronde van Drenthe.

Chaotic Beginning

As soon as the neutralized section ended there were crashes. Marianne Vos was first over VAMBerg 1, with groups all over the road. A group of 39 containing Trek-Segafredo’s Ellen van Dijk and Lotta Lepistö led after the second set of cobbles.

On a 30-km section without climbs or cobbles, Italian Maria Vittoria Sperotto of Bigla lit out solo for glory. Behind the first two groups merged to make a mob of 60.

With 69-km to go, Sperotto was reined in and crosswinds called for echelons. In the penultimate trip up the trash pile that is VAMBerg, there were six groups within a minute of each other. Heading to the last VAMBerg, Gracie Brown (Australia/Mitchelton-Scott) became the rabbit to chase.

Endgame

With 46-km to go Brown led a group of 25 by 1:15. A couple of crashes slowed the chase before the muddy ninth section of cobbles. Into a headwind with 19-km to go, Brown toiled to keep her gap.

Unfortunately, Brown’s bid for glory ended with 13-km and the last cobbled section remaining when she took a wrong turn . . .

Van Dijk attacked on the cobbles and worked to hold off a small, high-powered chase group. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Chantal Blaak and Bastianelli bridged van Dijk with 8-km to go. The trio’s gap was 25-seconds over seven chasers with 4-km remaining.

At Het Nieuwsblad it was Bastianelli runner-up to Blaak, but on Sunday the order was reversed in the photo finish sprint.

Lone Canadian entrant Alison Jackson was 29th. The Team TIBCO-SVB rider was 18th in Friday’s 1.2-rated Drentse Acht van Westerveld.

The next race in the series is next Sunday’s Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio.

2009 Ronde van Drenthe

1) Marta Bastianelli (Italy) Team Virtu Cycling 4:24:14
2) Chantal Blaak (The Netherlands/Boels-Dolmans) s.t.
3) Ellan van Dijk (The Netherlands/Trek-Segafredo) s.t.
29) Alison Jackson (Canada/Team TIBCO-SVB) +1:54

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