In the 56th edition of the Ronde van Drenthe (UCI 1.HC) on Sunday March 11, Dries de Bondt of team Veranda’s Willems-Crelan sprinted to second place on his STEVENS Xenon. “If anyone before the race had guaranteed me a second place, I would have accepted it at once”, de Bondt said after the race. After how the race went and losing the sprint duel to eventual winner Frantisek Sisr of Polish Pro Continental Team CCC Sprandi Polkowice, Bondt showed a little disappoint, though.
De Bondt, for the most part of the 192km (119mls) race, was part of a 12-strong, then 10-strong break-away group. The decision to send him into this group turned out to be right when at the finish line this group still was ahead of the peloton by 19 seconds. De Bondt said: “I was pretty confident that we would prevail, we were going quite fast.“
The finale became a little hectic. “I was surprised by Sisr starting to sprint so early”, De Bondt said after the race, and continued: “I had just waited a bit too long to get past him again.” At the start De Bondt was accompanied by team mates Stijn Devolder, Stijn Steels, Michael Goolaerts, Senne Leysen, Elias van Breussegem und Aidis Kruopis.
This second place in single-day race of the highest UCI ranking is the third podium place for Pro Continental Team Veranda’s Willems Crelan already, after Sean de Bie’s stage win at the Etoile des Bessèges in France and the well-noticed third place at the Strade Bianche by Wout van Aert. Coming up next in the Belgian team’s race calendar are further high-class single-day races like the Danilith Nokere Koerse and the Grand Prix de Denain - Porte du Hainaut, before on April 1st the Ronde van Flanderen will take place as the next prestigious event of the season.