Netherlands, One-day Road Race, 121.2km
Marianne Vos, who has won four of the six editions of this race - 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 (Loes Markerink won in 2008, when Vos was third; Annemiek van Vleuten won for Rabo in 2012 when Vos was recovering from a broken collarbone sustained at the Valkenburg Hills Classic) - and has given her name to the recreational cycling route that follows the same parcours as the race and to which a new bench is added every time she wins a World Championship (so the local authority had better arrange a good supply of benches for the future).
Setting out from Bergstraat in Wijk en Aalburg, the riders first travel 1.3km west to arrive at a bridge over the N267 marking the end of the neutralised zone and beginning of the race proper on Veldstraat. Immediately after the bridge lies a sweeping right-hander bend, followed a little over 100m later by a sweeping left-hander between two farms. 470m beyond the second bend is a crossroads; they continue straight ahead for another 1.43km on Veldstraat to a left turn leading onto Lange Pad. Sheep sometimes graze along the verges here and, if the weather's been wet, the droppings they leave on the road can become slippery - as can be deduced from the damaged bollards. Lange Pad travels south, completely straight and very much prone to strong crosswinds, for 1.81km to a junction with the N283; the riders go around a roundabout to cross it and enter Genderin on the Kelderstraat passing between a petrol station and a car dealership on the way into the village.
390m after the N283 crossing is a fairly tight right turn on regular cobbles (actually bricks) between a convenience store and a branch of Rabobank. This leads onto Hoofdstraat, which will carry the race west for 775m to the western end of the village where it becomes narrower and changes its name to Nieuwe Steege. 1.86km further on the race arrives at Eethen, crossing a bridge just before the village and then, 450m later, negotiating a left turn onto Molensteeg. The entry into the corner is simple, the exit out of it is made more technical by the presence of a traffic island with bollards between the two carriageways, reducing space dramatically - if the peloton is still complete when it reaches it, it would be possible for a small group of riders at the front of the bunch to power away in an attempt to form a break at this point whilst the main body of riders are squeezing through.
|2012 winner Annemiek van Vleuten|
|Can Vos take a fifth victory? Probably - she is Vos,|
The long circuit described above is completed three times. Having passed over the finish line for a third time, the riders continue along Bergstraat and take the same route west along Veldstraat. At the junction with Lange Pad, they go straight ahead rather than turning left, arriving 60m later at the junction with Dodesteeg that featured in the long circuits; they turn right here and follow the same route via Veen and Spijk leading back into Wijk en Aalburg. This circuit will also be completed three times.
To be confirmed
In addition to the Elite Women's race, there are a total of nine Youth races suited to various categories and a race for handcyclists. The official website is still showing last year's programme; the 2013 should soon be listed here. Other festivities and events also take place; the programme should appear soon here.
How to follow the race
Karl Lima (manager of the Hitec Products-UCK team), Richie Steege (mechanic of Boels-Dolmans), Bart Hazen (photographer and journalist) and Anton Vos (journalist and brother of Marianne) did such an admirable job of providing accurate updates last year that it was possible to follow what was happening in the race on Twitter - a good thing, because as is so often the case with women's cycling there was no other coverage.
More information closer to race day