2018 Season Wrap: Mitchelton-SCOTT women's winning season the best yetMon 22 Oct 2018
2018 has proven to be the most successful season for the Mitchelton-SCOTT women's team, claiming no less than 26 UCI victories, four more than their previous season's best in 2012 and seven more wins than last year.
Their consistent results saw the team finish second in the UCI women's team ranking capped off with world time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten finishing as UCI Women's WorldTour Individual Classification winner and UCI ranked number-one female rider in the world.
The UCI ranking is the icing on the cake for the team after becoming the first Australian UCI women's team back in 2012 and transitioning into the dominating force that is Mitchelton-SCOTT as we see it today.
We take a look back at some highlights of the 2018 season:
Giro-Rosa: First ever Grand Tour win
After turning their attention to general classification success a couple of years ago, Mitchelton-SCOTT women got things right in 2018 after a steep learning curve in 2017. As their main goal of the season, the riders worked to be in their best shape in July for the Giro-Rosa with 100% commitment and focus on winning the overall.
Exceeding expectations, the team also walked away with six stage wins from three different riders, with Van Vleuten winning three stages on her way to the top step of the podium to give Mitchelton-SCOTT their first ever Grand Tour victory, plus a stage win and third place overall finish by Amanda Spratt and two sprint stage victories by Jolien D’hoore.
Taking confidence from their successful season, Van Vleuten and Spratt shone at the UCI Road World Championships finishing with a gold and silver medal respectively.
Van Vleuten proved throughout the season why she is a time trial world champion, winning all but one timed event that she started in 2018 and was able to deliver on the main stage once again to defend her world championship title, bringing the rainbow jersey to Mitchelton-SCOTT for the second consecutiver season.
Spratt proved to herself and the rest of the world that she is one of the world’s best climbers with a gutsy ride that gave her the silver medal for Australia in the road race. After seeing the course last year, the 2018 world championships became a clear goal for Spratt and she delivered. Racing on the offensive and taking her chances in a late breakaway, Spratt kept herself on the front foot and came away with a much deserved second place.
Rise of the world’s best climbers
With a mindset to focus on general classification success in 2018, Mitchelton-SCOTT claimed four general classification victories, two from Spratt (Tour Down Under, Emakumeen XXXI Bira) and two from Van Vleuten (Giro-Rosa, Boels Ladies Tour).
After a steady development, learning from each other and taking confidence from their results, Van Vleuten and Spratt both stepped up another level this season which was highlighted by their GC success and first and third place in the Giro-Rosa.
With the high level within the team, the riders worked together to push themselves to the next level, often taking others by surprise with who the team was riding for in races.
To round out the season, Mitchelton-SCOTT's consistent performances were displayed by the final UCI rankings. The team concluded the season in second place on the UCI team world ranking and the UCI WorldTour rankings.
Van Vleuten took a clean sweep by winning the WorldTour individual classification and finished as ranked number one rider in the world, whilst Spratt finished fourth in both categories.
Gene Bates - Sport director:
"I think this year's success is a culmination of work and culture within the team which has been building for the last few years and seasons. We have had this core group of riders together now for a number of seasons, and throughout this time they have been maturing and working together. I think the results this year is just the result of that progression over time.
"We actively look for riders in the team to be ambitious and really get moments for themselves to seek out a result. Obviously there are many times when the team result must come first, but being able to have your 'leader' work for for the 'worker' from time to time, really provides a great feeling and motivation within the group.
"Again, across the board we have high expectations of our riders. We try hard to make sure nobody becomes complacent or too comfortable in their position. This current group of riders has been developing and maturing together for several seasons, and they are at a point now where they are both confident and capable of going for the best result possible.
"It also shows that our team is not just about one rider, when the team wins, everyone wins. It makes me very proud to see many different riders getting results during the season. When you have depth like that in a team, it starts to get hard for other teams to predict what we will do, and how we will race. I think this fact has been one of our greatest strengths this season."
"It has definitely been the team's best season this ever, from the start we really stepped up in professionalism and we did a lot of work off the bike in the off-season, learning to work better as a team and I think that has really shown this year. We started out really well, for me personally winning the Tour Down Under was a great way to start the momentum for the team and once we got to Europe the momentum just kept rolling.
"I think the best thing for me to see this season is that it wasn't just one or two riders getting results, we really had a lot of riders getting results and stepping up and even riders who didn't cross the finish line first, like Jess Allen, she made a huge step forward this year and she really contributed to a lot of our results.
"Everything really came together this year and people really saw how strong we are and especially at the Giro-Rosa. That was a big focus and you just saw we were so professional and well-drilled and all the girls really supported Annemiek and I for the GC, they rode so hard the whole time and sacrificed their chances.
"When you are in an environment where people are getting results like that it really motivates and encourages people to lift and I really felt that in the group this year and we really challenged and motivated each other, that has made the difference this year."
Annemiek van Vleuten:
"To see our team so high up in the ranking is something that makes me very very proud, more than the individual ranking.
"For our team in general it shows how we have stepped up and performed with all the girls as a team, it is something to celebrate, it is really awesome. We stepped up as a team last year but even more this year and it shows we are a really top, top level team."
2018 UCI race victories
National championships ITT New Zealand - Georgia Williams
National championships RR New Zealand - Georgia Williams
Jayco Herald SunTour TT - Annemiek van Vleuten
Santos Women's Tour - Stage 3 - Amanda Spratt
Santos Women's Tour GC - Amanda Spratt
Driedaagse Brugge - De Panne - Jolien D'hoore
Emakumeen XXXI Bira Stage 2 ITT - Annemiek van Vleuten
Emakumeen XXI Bira Stage 4 - Amanda Spratt
Emakumeen XXXI Bira GC - Amanda Spratt
SwissEver GP Cham - Amanda Spratt
Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik - Sarah Roy
OVO Energy Women's Tour - Stage 1 - Jolien D'hoore
OVO Energy Women's Tour - Stage 2 - Sarah Roy
Giro-Rosa - Stage 3 - Jolien D'hoore
Giro-Rosa - Stage 4 - Jolien D'hoore
Giro-Rosa - Stage 6 - Amanda Spratt
Giro-Rosa - Stage 7 ITT - Annemiek van Vleuten
Giro-Rosa - Stage 9 - Annemiek van Vleuten
Giro-Rosa - Stage 10 - Annemiek van Vleuten
Giro-Rosa GC - Annemiek van Vleuten
La Course by Le Tour de France - Annemiek van Vleuten
Veenendaal-Veenendaal Classic - Annemiek van Vleuten
Boels Ladies Tour Prologue - Annemiek van Vleuten
Boels Ladies Tour - Stage 2 - Annemiek van Vleuten
Boels Ladies Tour - Stage 6 - Annemiek van Vleuten
Boels Ladies Tour GC - Annemiek van Vleuten
Photo courtesy of Getty Images