Warning, this video starts with a big crash...
UPDATE! Here's the 26 minute video from the UCI
The course had changed a little big, with the last climb of the VAM-berg (the hill that keeps on growing) put back, so they could add an extra 7.9 lap of Hoogeveen. The cobbles and last two climbs had done their usual job, splitting up the peloton, but it hadn't dropped the sprinters from the front group, with Chloe Hosking and Jolien D'hoore from Wiggle Honda still up there, and the absolute queen of Dutch sprinting, Kirsten Wild. But then when Wild punctured on one of the narrow roads and had to wait for a car to reach her, it seemed like it was all about the Classics riders... even moreso when four Classics riders escaped.
These four - Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans), Tiffany Cromwell (Velocio-SRAM), Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle) and Roxane Knetemann (Rabo-Liv) - are very well known for escape artistry, and while there were 12 riders behind them, 8 of that group were their team-mates, and only Elena Cecchini (Lotto-Soudal), Emma Johansson (ORICA-AIS), Amy Pieters (Liv-Plantur) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Bigla) able to chase. With the gap up to 25 seconds at 10k to go, it felt like a done deal... but it looked like the four weren't just playing games, they weren't racing. With Pieters chasing especially hard, and Longo Borghini making it very clear she was racing for team-mates, the front four dropped 10 seconds in what seemed like metres... and then just after crossing the finish-line into the final lap, were caught, not only by the chase group (well, that is fine) but also by a huge second group... with Hitec having brought Wild back.
So, a bunch sprint, and it felt like those four teams had thrown the chance of a win away... except Wiggle obviously had a very clear plan, with Longo Borghini and Hosking executing a perfect-lead out, for D'hoore to sprint to her first ever Road World Cup win - a fantastic present for her 25th birthday!
1. Jolien D'hoore (Bel) Wiggle Honda, 3:33:34
2. Amy Pieters (Ned) Liv-Plantur, s.t.
3. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Boels-Dolmans, s.t.
4. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Rabobank-Liv, s.t.
5. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda, s.t.
6. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Velocio-SRAM, s.t.
7. Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) Boels-Dolmans, + 00:03
8. Emma Johannson (Swe) ORICA-AIS, s.t.
9. Marta Tagliaferro (Ita) Alé Cipollini, s.t.
10. Barbara Guarischi (Ita) Velocio-SRAM, s.t.
Here's how Jolien started the day:
I'm gonna celebrate my birthday with a bunch ride with my friends in Drenthe.— Jolien D'hoore (@JolienDhoore) March 14, 2015
and here's how she finished:
What an AMAZING day! Couldn't have wished for a better birthday. I'm so proud of my teammates!! Thank you chickas!@WiggleHonda— Jolien D'hoore (@JolienDhoore) March 14, 2015
Party time with @WiggleHonda - great Birthday celebrations for the World Cup winner @JolienDhoore #Fun pic.twitter.com/M72NAVjqgC— Rochelle Gilmore (@RochelleGilmore) March 14, 2015
So, for Wiggle, that gambling played off, but for the other teams? Pieters had never given up, and finished second, while Boels had Ellen van Dijk in the third spot, but what do you think about that final break? When Wild came back, I was convinced they'd thrown it away, but Wiggle obviously had faith in their plans - and I shouldn't have been surprised, owner Rochelle Gilmore had told me before the race started that Jolien would win!
So, let's talk about the race in the comments - and you can see more reactions from the various team race reports - Wiggle Honda jubilant, of course:
"Today was pretty good so far, I had an amazing birthday!" D’hoore laughed. "We rode as a team again, it was super-great. We were there at the important moments. We haven’t rehearsed the lead out or anything, it just came naturally! Audrey did the first part, then Elisa took over, and Chloe did the lead out. It was great!
"It was not easy! It is never easy!" D’hoore added. "But still I felt good today, I had good legs, and I was confident about my sprint, and that’s what I told the team. I’m very thankful for the trust in me."
More from Liv-Plantur, Boels-Dolmans, Rabo-Liv, Bigla and ORICA-AIS - and there are photo galleries on Velofocus, by Balint Hamvas on Cyclephotos.co.uk and on Cyclingnews, and this pre-race video from Rabo-Liv, with Roxane Knetemann filming the team bus
I'll edit more media in as I see it - and if you missed the huge drama in the first Drenthe race, Thursday's Drentse 8, where Loren Rowney was hit by a spectator in full sprint at 50m to go, all the videos are here, and Loren's reaction on Ella Cycling Tips. And if you want another reason to be impressed by D'hoore, read her words about issues of anorexia and cycling on Nieuwsblad.be, or translated on Cyclingnews.
UPDATE: What do the peloton do the day after riding a World Cup? Race again, of course! Here's the video from the Novilon Eurocup
UPDATE! Rider quotes and gorgeous photos in this Ella Cycling Tips gallery - and there's one of Chloe Hosking's superb blogs from the view of the race from inside the peloton over on her website - it's exhilarating! And another fabulous race report, in a very different style - Marijn de Vries, in Dutch and English.
And of course, let's chat about all of this and more, and share anything we see, in the comments below.