Mitchelton-SCOTT head to the Tour of Flanders with cards to playThu 4 Apr 2019
The jewel in the Belgian classics calendar is just days away as Mitchelton-SCOTT gear up for the Tour of Flanders gunning for glory in Oudenaarde.
Former Ronde winner Annemiek van Vleuten will be back after her hit out at Dwars Door Vlaanderen on Wednesday, while past runner-up Gracie Elvin will be looking to go one better than her second place finish two seasons ago.
It’s a strong team line-up boasting an array of options with an in-form Amanda Spratt making her comeback to the race, while Australian Sarah Roy will add valuable classics experience.
Jess Allen (AUS, 25)
Gracie Elvin (AUS, 30)
Sarah Roy (AUS, 33)
Amanda Spratt (AUS, 31)
Moniek Tenniglo (NED, 30)
Annemiek van Vleuten (NED, 36)
The race is the highlight of the Belgian classics campaign and the parcours are suitably challenging. The peloton will tackle 10 climbs in total, including the infamous ascents of the Taaienberg, Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg, with the latter topping out at just 13km from the finish.
As well as the tough bergs, the race will head over four cobbled sectors, all of which come in the opening half of the 159km race. And if the terrain wasn’t challenging enough, the wind and weather could also play apart as the bunch change direction several times on the loops around Oudenaarde.
The team won the Ronde in their debut season in 2012 with former rider Judith Arndt taking an impressive victory. Emma Johansson followed that up by twice taking a podium spot for the squad, finishing third in both 2013 and 2014.
Van Vleuten stepped onto the podium last season, taking bronze from a bunch sprint behind solo winner Anna van der Breggen. While in 2017 Elvin narrowly missed out on the title when she sprinted to second place from a reduced bunch kick for the line.
“Since the opening weekend of races I’ve felt really fit and strong and have been racing well. Apart from some bad luck here and there I’ve been happy with how I’ve been going in the build-up to Flanders and learning from each race and building my confidence in myself.”
“The whole team has also been strong and improving with every race, working as a unit and supporting each other. I think we can set some big ambitions for Flanders and have quite a few cards to play once the race gets hard and selective in the last 50-kilometres.”
"I’m super excited just to get out there and enjoy my favourite race of the year, execute a good team plan and have some fun playing the “classics” game. If you can put all the pieces together out there then you are in for a good chance of a big result.”
Annemiek van Vleuten:
“Gracie was going well in Dwars Door Vlaanderen and was there in the final and I expect Roy also to be strong this weekend. Spratty showed she came back amazingly strong after her crash in Strade with second place in Binda.”
“Moniek (Tenniglo) and Jess (Allen) are amazing with positioning and they always motivate me to ride more in front because they are always in front of me. It motivates me to be just with them to keep myself safe. Which is important in a hectic race like Flanders.”
“I feel good. The win in Strade gave me confidence and after I had a good three weeks of training at altitude. So, my hopes are to win on Sunday with one of us. I think with this team we can aim for that.”
Martin Vestby (Sports Director):
“Annemiek has some growing form and that’s nice to see, of course her target is more the Ardennes, but she will strengthen the team very well. It’s the same with Spratty, her target is more the Ardennes races, but with having those two along with Roy and Gracie, we have a strong team and more cards to play.”
“Gracie has some good form and she tested her legs in Dwars Door Vlaanderen and looks strong, I think she is one of the cards we can play heading into the final."
“Together with all the girls we have a good team, with options, so we’re hoping for an aggressive and strong race on Sunday.”
Ronde van Vlaanderen Race Details:
Sunday, 7th April: Oudenaarde to Oudenaarde, 159km
Photos Courtesy of Getty Images.