Spratt & Santesteban lead Team BikeExchange-Jayco at the first Women’s WorldTour stage race of the season – Itzulia 

Team BikeExchange-Jayco women are ready to switch their attention to the stage racing phase of the season, kicking off with the three-day WorldTour race Itzulia on Friday.
 
After a busy few days with two second places finishes, Ane Santesteban is back for more and looking for a strong result in her ‘home’ race, and will line-up with a mixed squad ready to tackle the three-day event.
 
Alongside the 31-year-old will be third place finisher at the Navarra Women’s Classic Kristen Faulkner and Australian climber Amanda Spratt who returns the fold after strong performances at the Ardennes.
 
Giving the team further options, after hardwork in the last three races in northern Spain, will be Slovenian Urska Zigart, New Zealander Georgia Williams and Singapore’s Chelsie Tan

Racing begins tomorrow with a fairly short 106km stage and the peloton ready to tackle more than 1,900m of altitude gain each day.
 
Team BikeExchange-Jayco Line-up at Itzulia:
Kristen Faulkner (USA) 
Ane Santesteban (ESP)
Amanda Spratt (AUS)
Chelsie Tan (SNG)
Georgia Williams (NZL)
Urska Zigart (SLO)

Amanda Spratt 
“I had a nice break after Liege. It was a very steep and fast road back to fitness and race intensity after my surgery, so I felt like I definitely needed the break to let all the work soak in and now I’m ready to go again!
 
I love racing in Spain and even more so in the Basque Country. It’s where I took my first WorldTour victory in 2018 so I have great memories. The racing here is always hard with many climbs, descents and not much flat in between. Stage three in particular, which is a carbon copy of the San Sebastián Classic, I see it as a really hard stage with the steep climb right before the finish. 
 
These are home roads for Ane and I know she is so motivated for these races which she has been targeting. I’m looking forward to supporting her and racing well as a team. It’s been great following the team from afar in these first races in Spain. You can see they are racing really well together, and I feel like a win is coming soon.”
 
Alejandro Gonzales-Tablas (Sport Director)
“We’ve seen in these past three races here in Spain that the riders are in great shape, they’ve been controlling the racing and working really well together, and we’ve had multiple podium finishes and it feels like we are so close to getting a win.
 
This will be the first stage race for the riders, and it will be a hard races with really strong competition and everybody knows the roads in this area are really hard and steep, so it will be a tough race but we are ready. Spratty comes in to join the team for Itzulia after her strong ride in Liege, so we have some really good options and everybody is excited to get this stage race underway.”

2022 Itzulia Race Details:
Friday, 13th May: Stage 1, Vitoria-Gasteiz to Bastida, 106km – 1,905m
Saturday, 14th May: Stage 2, Ermua to Mallabia, 118km – 2,129km
Sunday, 15th May: Stage 3, San Sebastian to San Sebastian, 140km 2,131m
 
 Photo: Getty Images