Demi Vollering (SD Worx) took victory in the first ever Dutch national gravel championships in Epe on Saturday afternoon, beating Floortje Mackaij (Team DSM) in a two-up sprint after almost two hours of racing.
“It’s the first national title that I’ve won,” Vollering said afterwards. “I’m going to be very proud to wear the red-white-blue during my training sessions.”
Vollering was one of a number of WorldTour riders on the startlist, a few weeks off the back of a busy road season that ended at the Ronde van Drenthe on 23 October, and immediately following the customary off-season.
“This was my first week back on the bike, and I also rode a new bike from my team,” said Vollering, whose season ended in Drenthe after taking overall victory at the Women’s Tour in early October. “I really enjoy gravel biking and I was hoping to compete for the win.”
The race played out on laps of a flat course that covered hard-packed grit, tree-lined farm tracks and a whole lot of sticky mud – which has had some critics question its ‘gravel’ status. Vollering herself was a little underwhelmed by the course in the days before the race, but having found a love for gravel during the pandemic, she was keen to support the event.
After four of nine laps, Vollering and Mackaij rode away from the group and quickly found a gap, but when Lorena Wiebes counter-attacked, her DSM teammate Mackaij stopped pulling. Despite having no help, Vollering maintained their slender advantage until Wiebes finally cracked in the closing kilometres.
“I attacked from a group of four and Floortje joined me,” Vollering explained. “Then we heard that Lorena Wiebes had counter-attacked, so Floortje stopped working. Only I really didn’t want Lorena catching on, so I kept riding. Luckily I won the sprint.”
Earlier in the day, Tijmen Eising (VolkerWessels) won the men’s title ahead of teammates Coen Vermelfoort and Daan van Sintmaartensdijk.