Mitchelton-SCOTT women highly motivated for Emakumeen Bira as it steps upto WorldTour statusThu 17 May 2018
Fresh from their mid-season training camp, Mitchelton-SCOTT women are highly motivated as they head to the Basque country this week for the oldest stage race on the women's cycling calendar, Emakumeen Bira.
For 2018, the four-day race steps up to WorldTour status and with that brings the highest level of competition and longer stages than in previous editions.
On heavy undulating roads, the riders will face three mountainous road stages and a lengthy 26kilometre individual time trial on the second day, meaning the general classification has the potential to continuously change, like it did in 2017 where the overall lead changed hands in the final moments of the event.
Amanda Spratt -Stage winner in 2017
"I'm looking forward to returning to the race, I have good memories after last year getting a stage win and the whole tour was a success for the team.
"This year I am excited to go back after doing a training camp were we have been doing a lot of climbing work. Everyone has been going really well and is fit and motivated and we are always excited coming off the back of a training camp and Bira is the first chance to see where we are at and use what we have learnt.
"It is going to be a harder edition this year, they've also added a 26kilometre time trial which is a different aspect but that should definitely suit our team having a rider like Annemiek, the World champion on the team and I think it is a course that can really suit us.
"The stages are a lot longer and with it stepping up to WorldTour status, the level is certainly going to be much higher so we are going to have to work hard for it."
Previously in Emakumeen Bira
Last year the team enjoyed a lot of success in the event with three stage wins from Amanda Spratt (stage 2), former rider Katrin Garfoot (stage 3) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Stage 4).
Van Vleuten took the lead and came close to sealing the victory, only to be denied the win after Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla) attacked away solo on a final climb and claimed the overall victory by 10seconds ahead of Van Vleuten. Further team sucess was back in 2013 former team rider Emma Johansson won the overall event.
Saturday, 19th May: Legazpi to Legazpi, 108km
Sunday, 20th May: Agurain to Gasteis, 26km ITT
Monday, 21st May: Aretxabaleta to Aretxabaleta, 122km
Tuesday, 22nd May: Iurreta to Iurreta, 120km
Photo courtesy of Getty Images