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Having attacked the final time up the Vamberg, Theuns made it into a 5-rider group and then beat his companions in the sprint to win the Ronde van Drenthe

Photo: Sirotti

BERT JAN LINDEMAN

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14.03.2015 @ 18:37 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen) continued his amazing start to the season when he won today’s Dutch one-day race Ronde van Drenthe. The Belgian emerged as the fastest in a 5-rider breakaway after he had attacked the final time up the Vamberg and beat Bert-Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Joey van Rhee (Jo Piels) into the minor positions.

 

Last year Edward Theuns indicated that he is destined for big things when he won the GP Stad Zottegem but it is his performances in 2015 that have caught the attention. The Belgian has been flying all year and today he crowned it all with a win in the Ronde van Drenthe.

 

Already in the Etoile de Besseges, Theuns was flying as he got close to a stage win numerous times, led the race for several days and finished fifth overall. Later he finished 5th in the Clasica de Almeria and played a prominent role in the Ruta del Sol.

 

This naturally made him one to watch for the Ronde van Drenthe whose windy course with cobbles and several passages of the short Vamberg climb suited him perfectly. The Belgian delivered on his promises as he came away with the win in one of the biggest Dutch one-day races.

 

After the Roompot team had forced a selection on the final pave, a 20-rider front group had been formed as they went into the final two passages of the Vamberg. Here Theuns showed his strength as he made a big attack that only Bert-Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo), Joey van Rhee, Scott Thwaites (Bora-Argon 18) and Jesper Asselman (Roompot) could follow.

 

The five escapees worked well together to build an advantage of around a minute. Behind, a regrouping took place and the chase got organized but as the major teams were all represented in the front group, it lacked the firepower to bring it back together.

 

Hence, the five escapees could enter the final few kilometres with a solid advantage and as there were no real attacks, it all came down to a sprint. Being the fastest rider, Theuns was the obvious favourite and he was forced to lead the group for the entire final kilometre.

 

Theuns was constantly looking back before he finally launched his sprint. Unsurprisingly, he turned out to be in a class of his own and beat Lindeman and van Rhee into the minor podium spots.

 

Theuns has a chance to make it two in a row in tomorrow’s Dwars door Drenthe which again includes the Vamberg and a few cobbles. However, the course is less selective and the chance for a bunch sprint is bigger.

 

A real classic

The Ronde van Drenthe was held on a 198.3km course that started and finished in Hoogeveen. It was a mostly flat affair but the riders had to tackle the small Vamberg climb two times in the early part and two times in the finale. In between those passages, they faced 8 pave sectors. The final passage of the climb came with 44.3km to go and then the race finished with three laps of a flat 7.9km finishing circuit.

 

The race has often been held in windy, rainy conditions but this year it was dry when the riders left Hoogeveen. However, a solid wind was blowing, setting the scene for a hard and selective race. As usual, the race got off to a fast and attacking start and it took some time for the early break to be formed.

 

The break takes off

When the peloton finally slowed down, Rens Te Stroet (Jo Piels), Rene Hooghiemster (Baby Dump), Bram Nolten (Parkhotel) and Johim Ariesen (Metec) had taken off and they started to build an advantage. They were joined by Tim Ariesen (Jo Piels) and those five riders were managed to build an advantage of 4.40.

 

The Roompot and LottoNL-Jumbo teams combined forces to bring the early break back and with 60km to go, the race was back together. The former team accelerated hard over the final pave sector and this made the race selective.

 

Theuns makes his move

When the dust had settled, a 20-rider front group had been formed, and they were chased by another 10 riders while the peloton was already a minute behind. The riders still faced two passages of the Vamberg and here Theuns attacked.

 

The Belgian was joined by Lindeman, Thwaites, Asselman and van Rhee. Elmar Reinders (Jo Piels) tried to bridge the gap but he constantly lost ground. With 20km to go, he was 45 seconds behind while the peloton had regrouped and was at 1.20.

 

The escapees were working well together and with 15km to go, their advantages were 1.05 and 1.25 respectively. Reinders was caught but the peloton never caught the leaders and it was Theuns who came away with the win.

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