Multiple options for ORICA-AIS going into the five day Energiewacht Tour

Mon 4 Apr 2016

ORICA-AIS will head straight from the Belgian classics to Holland this week for the first stage race of the European season, the five-day Energiewacht Tour.

The stage race in the far north of Holland opens with an evening team time trial and includes a 13.6km individual race against the clock on the penultimate stage. Previous editions of the race has seen teams line up with their time trial specialists, taking the opportunity to compete in one of the few UCI time trial events. 

Sport director Gene Bates is excited to see what the ORICA-AIS riders can achieve throughout the week, with goals in both time trials and road stages.

"I think we have a really good team for the team time trial," explained Bates. "We have probably three of the strongest time trial riders in the world with Katrin Garfoot, Annemiek van Vleuten and Tayler Wiles."

"The riders are all in really great shape, Annemiek has shown that throughout all the spring races and Tayler and Katrin are coming in specifically to target the two time trials.

"These girls will really focus their attention on the final individual time trial on Saturday, with it being one of the only UCI time trials between now and Rio Olympics. It's a great practice event for them and also can help with qualification for their various nations."

ORICA-AIS has had consistent results throughout all the one day races so far this season. Now heading into a five-day race, the Australian outfit is looking forward to having consecutive opportunities to try and achieve the victory.

"It's good to have a stage race as we can use the direct feedback from each day and apply it going into the following stage," Bates continued. "I think we can get a lot out of this week and hopefully come away achieving our different goals." 

"Overall we will be looking for stage results and I think we have got good chances in the road stages with Loren Rowney and Gracie Elvin. I think they can both win from a small group and challenge if it comes down to a bunch sprint."

33-year-old Rachel Neylan will play an important role as a support rider for the team, and will use the five-day race to prepare for further stage race targets later in the season.

The typical Dutch race will feature narrow open roads, scattered with road furniture and has the potential for strong winds and echelons, making the Energiewacht Tour a challenging feat.

ORICA-AIS riders in Energiewacht Tour:

Gracie Elvin (AUS, ACT, 27) 
Katrin Garfoot (AUS, QLD, 34) 
Rachel Neylan (AUS, NSW, 33) 
Loren Rowney (AUS, QLD, 27) 
Annemiek van Vleuten (NED, 33) 
Tayler Wiles (USA, 26) 

Energiewacht Tour stages (6-10th April):

Wednesday, 6 Apr: Stage 1 Groningen to Groningen, Team Time Trial, 11.3km
Thursday, 7 Apr: Stage 2 Winsum to Winsum, 116.8km
Friday, 8 Apr: Stage 3 Musselkanaal to Stadskanaal, 131.9km
Saturday, 9 Apr: Stage 4a Zuidhorn to Zuidhorne, 75.4km
Saturday 9 Apr: Stage 4b Leek to Leek, Individual Time Trial, 13.6km
Sunday, 10 Apr: Stage 5 Borkum to Borkum, 119.3km