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Queen of the sprints: Lorena Wiebes in ominous form ahead of major spring races

With a mature performance to win Saturday's Ronde van Drenthe, the Dutch rider looks like the sprinter to beat this spring.

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Lorena Wiebes once again put herself forward as the sprinter to beat ahead of the spring classics.

Wiebes is still just 22, but has established herself as the fastest woman in the peloton since her breakthrough 2019 season. Her queen of the sprints crown doesn’t look like it will be going anywhere soon.

After a slightly wobbly start to her campaign in Valencia last month, the Dutchwoman appears to be hitting her form at just the right moment this spring. She blasted to victory at the GP Oetingen last Wednesday before racking up her second straight Ronde van Drenthe title with a huge drive to the line.

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Ronde van Drenthe is rarely straightforward and Wiebes had to keep her cool with breakaways, a puncture, and a tough final ascent of the notorious VAM-berg challenged her in the final 20 kilometers.

After Wiebes’ DSM teammates spent a day marking and chasing, Wiebes had to rely on the Trek-Segafredo train to launch her own sprint with 150 meters to go.

“Today we showed again that we have a really strong team. Megan [Jastrab], Franzi [Koch], and Leah [Kirchmann] did a really good job with positioning us for the difficult moments, despite some bad luck,” Wiebes said. “All of the time we were in the front for the VAM-berg and reacted on the attacks which was really good. Before the VAM-berg for the last time, I had a flat but was happy to come back to the peloton.

“Pfeiffer stayed with me on the VAM-berg and Floortje made it into the front group, before Pfeiffer then closed the gap to them. A couple of groups tried to go clear, and in the end, there were four riders away but Floortje and Pfeiffer started chasing and it was all under control. I’m really happy to be able take the win for everyone after a day with so much teamwork. We’re really looking forward to our next races now.”

It was a mature performance from Wiebes, who appears to only be getting better as the years progress — a worrying sign for her rivals, particularly with some big spring classics on the horizon.

Though she struggled under the strain of the final VAM-berg ascent, Wiebes appears to be climbing as well as ever, and her third-place finish at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad earlier this month is an example of that. What’s more, is that she can still hold her top speed after a difficult day in the saddle.

Wiebes will line up at Nokere Koerse on Wednesday and she is on a run of form that could see her take victory at the Belgian race again after winning it in 2019.

While the revamped Nokere Koerse — with its much-improved prize money — would be a nice addition to her palmarès, there are some big-ticket events later in the spring that Wiebes will be dangerous at, such as the Brugge-De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem.

With the form she is in right now, it would be foolish to bet against her.