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Per Strand Hagenes has won the Ronde van Drenthe. The only 19-year-old Norwegian from Team Jumbo-Visma left his breakaway companions behind in the final kilometres. It is the first victory in the professional peloton for Hagenes, who is still an U23-rider.
The snowfall had a huge impact on the race weekend in Drenthe. On Friday, Drentse Acht was cancelled and the women’s Ronde van Drenthe was shortened on Saturday. Before the start of this race, the organisation also decided to reduce the number of kilometres, which meant the VAM-berg only had to be climbed twice. “We didn’t actually know if we were going to be able to race today,” Hagenes said. “The shortened course made it very hectic. The pace was high immediately from the start.”
The Team Jumbo-Visma riders stayed in the peloton for most of the race. With 22 kilometres left and after the breakaway was caught, the riders in yellow and black took the initiative. A front group of 16 riders soon formed, including Hagenes and three teammates. “We saw an opportunity to make the difference on the roads with heavy crosswinds. We gave it our all and that resulted in a smaller group up front. After some attacks by other riders, I ended up in at the front with three others,” Hagenes said.
"I knew I had to get rid of the others to avoid a sprint."
“The other riders were also very strong. I am not the fastest sprinter, so I knew I had to get rid of them. I went full gas with two kilometres to go. I hoped for the best. It wasn’t until five hundred metres from the finish line that I knew I would win. I looked back and I noticed a big gap”, the Norwegian said.
For the 19-year-old Hagenes, who normally rides for the Jumbo-Visma Development Team and who will ride for the World Tour-team from next season, it is the first win in the pro peloton. “It feels great to be able to win at this level. There were excellent riders at the start here. I hope this means I can become a good pro in the future. We will see.”
"Everything had to fall in place today and that was the case."
Wynants looks back with satisfaction. “On a day like this, where there is no particular leader in the team, everything has to fall in place. It is nice that it happened. We were already in control when there were four of our riders in the front group. Per finishing it off was wonderful. We knew he is a great rider, but in conditions like these he is even better. He forced this win all by himself.”