A motivated ORICA-AIS team head to the iconic Ronde van VlaanderenThu 31 Mar 2016
ORICA-AIS head into the iconic Tour of Flanders full of motivation after a consistent start to the European season, placing in the top ten in all but one race so far.
The 141.2kilometre WorldTour race, locally known as the Ronde van Vlaanderen is seen as one of the biggest and prestigious races on the women's calendar.
Covering many of the climbs and cobble sections that the elite men's race follows, such as the Oude kwaremont, Molenberg and Paterberg climbs, along with two long gnarly sections of cobbles in the Haaghoek and Paddestraat. The race is certainly a challenging one and a goal for many teams and riders.
Sport director Gene Bates is confident the ORICA-AIS squad is in good form and well prepared for the race.
"Everyone is really excited and looking forward to the race," said Bates. "We have six riders all in very good condition going into Sunday's race with nothing to lose. It's a great position to be in."
"Gracie Elvin showed her form after finishing in second place in the WorldTour race Ronde van Drenthe a couple of weeks ago and Annemiek van Vleuten has had many top tens this year. She has won the Tour of Flanders before, so she is very experienced and knows the climbs and cobbles well.
"We've got really strong team lining up. The riders are all in good shape and if it all falls into to place on the day then we have a very good shot."
Alongside the duo, bringing strength and depth to the team is Australian champion Amanda Spratt, Queenslander Loren Rowney and SwissEver GP Cham winner Lizzie Williams. Former Australian criterium champion Sarah Roy rounds up the six rider squad in her strongest season to date.
A wide variety of races have already taken place so far this season, so riders take to the start line with enough racing and preparation in their legs, ready for a battle along the Flemish roads.
Ronde van Vlaanderen marks the fifth race of the 2016 women's WorldTour series and brings in the best riders and teams each year on the first weekend of April.
ORICA-AIS riders in Ronde van Vlaanderen (3rd April):