No one can beat Lorena Wiebes in a sprint right now

The Team DSM rider sprinted to victory at the second round of the women's WorldTour on Saturday, Ronde van Drenthe.

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Lorena Wiebes easily defended her Ronde van Drenthe title on Saturday after a hectic finale that ended with a reduced bunch sprint. The Team DSM rider crossed the line just ahead of the world champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) and Belgian national champion Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx).

The win in Hoogeveen marks Wiebes’s second sprint victory in four days. On Wednesday, the former Dutch national champion beat Chiara Consonni and Maria Guilia Confalonieri to win the GP Oetingen.

In 2021, Wiebes racked up an incredible list of victories, the vast majority of them from bunch sprints. Her first win of the year was at Scheldeprijs in Belgium. She went on to win the prologue of the Ceratizit Festival Elsy Jacobs, the GP Eco-Struct, two stages of LOTTO Thüringen Ladies Tour, Dwars door de Westhoek and Flanders Diamond one-day back to back, a stage of the Lotto Belgium Tour, two stages of the Giro Donne, two stages of the Women’s Tour, and ended the season by winning the final WorldTour race of 2021 the Ronde van Drenthe. In total, Wiebes notched 13 victories in 2021, that’s four more than the woman who eventually topped the WorldTour points race, Annemeik van Vleuten. Unfortunately, only three of Wiebes’s victories were WorldTour, the other ten didn’t count towards her points total.

Wiebes is quickly proving that she is the woman to beat in a fast finish. For a few moments, it looked like Ronde van Drenthe might not go in her favour. There were a few dangerous splits in the peloton when the race crested the VAM-Berg for the final time, but fortunately for Wiebes, the front group couldn’t organize in time. It was a bit of a weird moment, as the front group included another race favourite in Balsamo and Kopecky, the winner of Strade Bianche. Balsamo had the help of two teammates, Ellen van Dijk and Chloe Hosking, while Kopecky had Elena Cecchini.

The lone Team DSM rider Floortje Mackaij represented Wiebes’s team in the front group.

The group of ten spread out across the road, with no one taking control of the pace. The chase, led by British national champion Pfeiffer Georgi, was quick to bring her sprinter back into the equation and although a breakaway attempted to steal the show in the final 10 km, Trek-Segafredo and Georgi made sure the race came down to a sprint.

“I chose the wheel of Balsamo because my teammates were chasing the break,” Wiebes said after the race. “I went a bit earlier than her and that was my plan, to go on the left. And I still had the space there to the line.”

Hosking was the final woman standing for Balsamo and led the world champion to the final 150 meters but Wiebes beat Balsamo to the jump. Once Wiebes put the power out there was no way anyone was coming close. She waited until the final possible moment and walked away with yet another sprint victory.

The result is a welcome one for Team DSM who has already had an impressive start to the 2022 season, and heading into the bigger Spring Classics it will be interesting to see if Wiebes can keep up her winning ways when WorldTour points are on the line.

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