Jolien D'Hoore makes her debut for Mitchelton-SCOTT as the team starts European racing in Belgium

Wed 21 Feb 2018

Mitchelton-SCOTT women head to Belgium this weekend to kick off their 2018 classics campaign with Omloop het Nieuwsblad and Omloop het van Hageland.

After a successful start to the 2018 season down under, the motivated squad are hoping to continue their momentum as they welcome the 'Belgium Bullet' Jolien D'Hoore who makes her debut for the Australian outfit.

The races:

Saturday 24th - Omloop het Nieuwsblad begins proceedings for the Belgium ‘Opening Weekend’ with a 122kilometre course from Merelbeke to Ninove. With famous tough climbs added to the parcours for 2018 such as the Muur van Geraardsbergen and Bosberg, plus lengthy cobble sections such as the 1.7kilometre Haaghoek, the race will highlight riders early season form and is expected to be one of the hardest editions.

Sunday 25th - Omloop het van Hageland begins in Tielt-Winge with a 53kilometre opening loop including a cobble climb before the riders continue onto a finishing circuit where they will complete six local laps of 13kilometres with a steep decisive climb, to give a total distance of 131kilometres.

The team:

Jessica Allen – (AUS 24)
Gracie Elvin - (AUS 29)
Jolien D´Hoore - (BEL 27)
Sarah Roy - (AUS 31) 
Amanda Spratt - (AUS 30)
Annemiek van Vleuten - (NED 35) - Nieuwsblad only
Georgia Williams - (NZL 24) - Hageland only

Jolien D’hoore - Former Omloop het van Hageland winner

"I’m very excited to kick off the new season with my new team in a race on home soil. We start in the city where I was born and we ride through the town where I live now. So it all makes it very special to me."
"I’ve had a good winter with two big trainingcamps in Spain and Portugal so I feel ready but you always have to wait and see how the body reacts to that first race. But I’m more motivated to show how strong we are as a team."
"I’m proud to be part of such a strong team, every rider is so strong, and riders like Annemiek and Gracie are very experienced in the Belgium classics. Together we can handle every race situation. It’s up to us to go out there, have fun and play the game."
"I’ve won it Omloop van Hageland two times. It’s really one of my favourite races. It’s tough but most of the time it ends up in a bunch sprint so it suits my style of racing. The goal this year is to win it again with Mitchelton-SCOTT." 

Gracie Elvin - 2017 2nd place Tour of Flanders

"The opening weekend of the the Classics is always special. The nerves are high but you are really excited to get the season underway and see what your legs are like compared to the other riders. For me this year I am nervous like always but I have done a lot of seasons now and I know how to manage myself before and during the race."
"It was a good summer in Australia for me and I hope to do well this weekend and build towards my big goals of the Tour of Flanders and then the Commonwealth Games soon after. I’m really excited to race with my new Belgian team mate Jolien D’Hoore. She is always a rider I have admired and wanted to be a team mate of, so to finally have the opportunity this year, makes me extra motivated to do all the right things in the Spring. With Annemiek and the rest of our in-form squad I think we can do some really special performances this year." 
"The new course looks challenging but we have raced over similar routes over the years and I know what to expect when the Muur van Geraardsbergen is in a race - suffering! It will probably be a select group at the finish but with any of the Flanders Classics races you need to put together a complete race from start to finish, manage yourself well and ride each sector like it is the most important, not just the Muur."

Gene Bates - Sport director

“It’s always tricky the first race in Europe, nobody really knows what is really going to happen. Combined with a new, much harder course for Saturday, it is hard to say who will be in the front after the Muur van Geraardsbergen."

“I think we have a few options in our team certainly for Saturday, everyone is fit and healthy and motivated, the best way to be for the opening weekend and I think we have several riders capable of a great result.”

Previously in Omloop het Nieuwsblad:

The Australian outfit has tasted success twice before in the one-day race, achieving a win in the team’s first season with Loes Gungewijk (2012) and with Tiffany Cromwell (2013). Emma Johanson placed second in 2014, Sarah Roy sneaked inside the top ten in 2016 and last year Annemiek van Vleuten took third spot.

With most of the riders familiar with the climbs in the area they know what it takes and are prepared for the cobble challenge.

Previously in Omloop het van Hageland:

Having never won the event before, the team is looking to turn things around in 2018 with last year’s winner Jolien D’hoore in the team line-up, alongside Roy who rounded up the podium with third place.

The squad has always been around the mark with a second and third place in 2014, 2013 respectively with former team rider Johansson, Amanda Spratt and Van Vleuten have also been in the top ten before with fifth and sixth back in 2015. 

Race details:

Saturday, 24th February: Omloop het Nieuwsblad 122km
Sunday, 25th February: Omloop het van Hageland 131km