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With a well-timed attack from a 19-rider front group, Asselman took his first pro win in the Ronde van Drenthe; McNally attacked to take second and Groenewegen won the sprint for third

Photo:Feltet,dk

DYLAN GROENEWEGEN

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RONDE VAN DRENTHE

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ROOMPOT-CHARLES

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12.03.2016 @ 18:55 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jesper Asselman took Roompot’s first win of the 2016 season when he came out on top in the first major Dutch race of the year. The local rider attacked from a 19-rider front group in the finale and managed to hold off lone chaser Mark McNally (Wanty). Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) had to settle for third by winning the sprint.

 

Last year Jesper Asselman suddenly found himself in the spotlight when he enjoyed a stint in the leader’s jersey at the Eneco Tour. However, the elusive first pro win was still missing for the aggressive rider who has often featured in breakaways.

 

Today things finally came together for the talented Dutchman when he took the first win for his Roompot team in 2016. To make things even better, the victory came in one of his biggest home races, the Ronde van Drenthe.

 

The 54th edition of the Ronde van Drenthe was held on a flat 197.1km course around the city of Hoogeveen. The main challenge was the artificial Vamberg climb that was tackled twice early in the stage. Then the riders did a big loop on flat, narrow roads with 8 pave sectors before they returned to the Vamberg which they did three times. The final passage came with 36.1km to go and then they returned to Hoogeveen where they did two laps of a flat 7.9km circuit.

 

It was beautiful sunshine when the riders gathered for the start in calm conditions. All riders on the start list were present as they headed out for their neutral ride.

 

As usual the riders got the race off to an aggressive start and it was Jasper Hamelink (Metec) who escaped before the first passage of the Vamberg. He was joined by Josef Cerny (CCC), Frederique Robert (Crelan) and Gert-Jan Bosman (Jo Piels) to form a front quartet. Rene Hooghiemster (Baby-Dump) took off in pursuit as the peloton allowed the gap to go out to two minutes.

 

Hooghiemster and another rider made the junction to make it a six-rider front group. They pushed their gap out to more than four minutes. Bosman briefly lost contact due to a mechanical but managed to rejoin the group.

 

Another two riders made the junction and suddenly an 8-rider group had formed with an advantage of 2.30. However, as things got nervous on the paves, they were soon brought back.

 

Stijn Steels (Topsport Vlaanderen) tried to attack on the cobbles but had little luck. Instead, Tim Ariesen (Seg) and Wouter Mol (De Rijke) escaped and they were the first riders to reach the top of the Vamberg for the final time.

 

Sjoerd van Ginneken (Roompot), Mark McNally (Wanty), Gerry Druyts (Verandas), Elmar Reinders (Jo Piels) and Kobus Hereijgers (De Rijke) joined the move and the septet managed to get an advantage of 30 seconds. However, they were brought back too as a small 19-rider group gathered as they approached the finishing circuit, with a bigger field chasing around one minute behind.

 

Berden De Vries (Roompot) attacked and was the first to cross the line with an advantage of around 15 seconds. Further back, the attacking continued as pre-race favourite Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) made a move. He was joined by Michel Kreder (Roompot) and later Asselman, Kenny Dehaes (Wanty), Jetse Bol (De Rijke) and another rider also made the junction.

 

Asselman and Kreder didn’t contribute to the chase and the 18 chasers came back together after Raymond Kreder (Roompot), Dries De Bondt (Verandas) and Ariesen had been the first to make the junction. Dehaes, Bol and Asselman tried again but the chase group was intact at the final passage of the line when the gap was down to 10 seconds. The peloton was 1.10 behind.

 

De Vries was brought back as Wanty set the pace until the attacking started again. Reinders made a move with less than 3km to go but it was the counterattack from Asselman that worked. The Roompot rider got a nice gap while McNally took off in pursuit. The peloton failed to get organized in time and even though they got close in the end, it was too late. Asselman crossed the line one second ahead of McNally who just held off Groenewegen who beat Raymond Kreder in the sprint for third. Chris Opie (ONE) won the peloton’s sprint 49 seconds behind the winner.

 

With the Ronde van Drenthe done and dusted, the next major race in the Netherlands is the Volta Limburg Classic which takes place on April 2.

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