Regardless of the result, the Ronde van Drenthe would have been a special race for Maike van der Duin (Canyon-SRAM). Born, raised, and still living in Assen, less than 30 km from the VAMberg, the 21-year-old had been looking forward to her local race for some time – but finishing in third place was unexpected, and Van der Duin sported a huge smile on her dirt-encrusted face during the post-race TV interview with local station RTV Drenthe.
“It’s a dream, really. If someone had offered me this before the race, I would have taken it. I had hoped for it, but not really expected it. Six times up the VAMberg, that could work out well for me, but maybe also go in the wrong direction.
“I felt really good in the race, and when I went over the VAMberg for the last time among the first ten, I thought, ‘okay, now it’s all-in for the sprint. How great would it be to get the first podium for my team as a new signing’. It’s beautiful,” Van der Duin said.
Van der Duin had only raced the Ronde van Drenthe once before, finishing 69th in 2022 after an unlucky race, but her other road and track results – for example winning the intermediate sprint jersey at the Women’s Tour and taking fifth and sixth places on stages of the Tour de France Femmes – netted her a two-year Women’s WorldTour contract with Canyon-SRAM, announced in September.
October saw the Dutchwoman finish second in the Scratch Race and Omnium at the World Track Championships, and she started her 2023 season on the boards as well, finishing third in the Elimination Race at the European Championships before switching to the road for the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
But track cycling again played a role in her preparation for the Ronde van Drenthe: “The weather was really bad last week, so I pushed myself to the limit on the track for three days. Then I could rest again towards this weekend, and that worked out well,” Van der Duin said.
The 21-year-old now leads the Women’s WorldTour U23 ranking: She scored four points as the second-best U23 rider at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and the six points as the best young rider in Drenthe put her at 10 points – the same amount as previous leader Henrietta Christie (Human Powered Health), but scored in more recent races.