Amy Pieters won the mountain classification and Christine Majerus the blue sprint jersey in the Drentse Acht van Westerveld on Friday, the UCI1.2-race that precedes the Women's WorldTour Ronde van Drenthe on Sunday. While Pieters gathered her points on the ascents of the VAM-berg, Luxembourg champion Majerus aimed for the intermediate sprints.
"I expected to have a bit of trouble towards the end of the race, but I just got better and better," Pieters concluded after the race.
The Drentse Acht was Pieters' first road race in 2018, having focused on the track this winter. After taking home a silver medal at the World Track Championships on the madison together with Kirsten Wild (Wiggle-High5), Pieters is now back on the road.
"I felt good, so I wanted to race offensively," said Pieters. "There were a lot of sprinters here, so I decided that I just had to go all-in." Towards the end of the race, Pieters was part of a small breakaway. "I was off the front with Lisa Klein (Canyon-SRAM) and Janneke Ensing (Ale Cipollini), but Klein didn't take her turns. Behind me, I saw Mitchelton-Scott drive the pace, but I just rode as long as I could and would just see where it ended."
The attack did not last and a bunch sprint ultimately determined the winner of the race. That was Alexis Ryan (Canyon-SRAM), ahead of Jolien D'Hoore (Mitchelton-Scott) and Chloe Hosking (Ale Cipollini). While Amalie Dideriksen was Boels-Dolmans' rider for the sprint, the hectic final messed up the plans. So after tackling the intermediate sprints, Majerus had to sprint one more time for the finish and earned fifteenth place.
"It was a very hectic race altogether," said Pieters. "In the first big loop, there was a lot of turning and turning, but in the local lap it became really bizarre. It was incredibly chaotic, with lots of tight corners. A lot of narrow curves with gravel. That's actually pretty annoying in a race, so you just can't go any faster, it was pretty dangerous."
With Sunday's Women's WorldTour race in mind, Pieters is happy with how the race went. "I was pleasantly surprised to see how I did after so much time on the track," concluded Pieters. "I was very happy that I had the power to attack in the final, there was still quite a bit of force behind it, which shows that the form is good and I hope to have a good race again on Sunday. And I hope we can win it with the team."