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ORICA-AIS looking to maximise opportunities in the eight-day Route de France

Wed 3 Aug 2016

ORICA-AIS return to France this weekend for the UCI 2.1 category race Route de France, lining up with a with a mixed team of young and experienced riders.

The eight-day race is one of the few longer stage races on the women’s calendar and the Australian outfit are hoping to make the most of their daily opportunities, searching out both stage wins and the overall classification.

Sport director Gene Bates is confident in having different targets to focus on throughout the stages.

“We have multiple ambitions going into this race,” explained Bates. “Certainly stage wins first and foremost but we also have a good shot at the overall with Tayler Wiles.”

“The first few days we will look to support her with that ambition, all the big mountain stages are in the final few days so it is a matter of looking after her early in the race, not losing any time and giving her the best shot coming into those mountainous stages. 

“We can pick and choose our stages. Sarah Roy is the fastest in our group so we will look to maximise our opportunities in the sprints with her, but we aren’t ruling out giving the other girls their own opportunities as well. We have got a relatively young team for this race and it is a good race to try and give everybody their own chance.”

New to the team mid this year, 21-year-old Jenelle Crooks has experience of this tour, achieving a top ten finish overall last year whilst riding with the Australian national team which gives Bates extra confidence in what the Crooks and the team are capable of achieving next week.

“Jenelle finished seventh overall and also won the young rider's jersey at this race so there is no reason why she can’t have a good overall as well as Tayler,” Bates continued. “We won’t necessarily load her up with any pressure to get onto the podium but we will support her as best we can for those last few hillier days.” 

“This team has been racing well together recently and every race we do Jess Allen seems to be getting better and better. She had a strong ride last weekend at RideLondon and is getting more comfortable in the team and the way we approach the races. 

“It has been really pleasing to see this, she’s certainly a rider who can animate the race and I expect we will continue to see a lot of this this coming week.”

The youngest rider on the team, 20-year-old Alexandra Manly rounds up the five-rider team and is looking forward to her first lengthy tour and hoping to make good progress throughout the week.

“I’m really excited to race this tour, it will be my first time at this race and the longest tour that I have ever done,” said Manly. “We have been learning a lot in the last few races, working together and really gelling well as one unit.” 

“With it being quite long it gives us a lot of opportunities and a good chance to pick out certain stages to go for stage wins and put into practice what we have learnt so far this season.”

ORICA-AIS will miss former Route de France stage winner Loren Rowney after coming down with illness last week, nevertheless the diverse squad remain confident that the French tour will be a success.

The race kicks off on Sunday with an opening 3.2kilometre prologue in Saint Quentin before heading across the country throughout the week, eventually finishing in the East in Guebwiller.

ORICA-AIS at Route de France (7th-14th August):

Jessica Allen (AUS, WA, 23)
Jenelle Crooks (AUS, WA, 21)
Alexandra Manly (AUS, WA, 20)
Sarah Roy (AUS, NSW, 30)
Tayler Wiles (USA, 27) 

Route de France stages:

Sun, 7th Aug: Prologue SAINT QUENTIN - SAINT QUENTIN, Prologue 3.2km
Mon, 8th Aug: Stage 1, SAINT QUENTIN - PONTOISE
Tue, 9th Aug: Stage 2, BREUILLET - SAINT BENOIT SUR LOIRE
Wed, 10th Aug: Stage 3, SAINT SAUVEUR EN PUISAYE - NEVERS
Thurs, 11th Aug: Stage 4, BUXY - CHALON SUR SAÔNE
Fri, 12th Aug: Stage 5, BOURBONNE LES BAINS - LA BRESSE
Sat, 13th Aug: Stage 6, PLOMBIERES LES BAINS - SOULTZMATT
Sun, 14th Aug: Stage 7, LUTTERBACH - GUEBWILLER

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