ORICA-AIS confident of strong showing at Santos Women's TourTue 13 Jan 2015
A confident ORICA-AIS roster is set to line up at the Santos Women’s Tour this Saturday looking for success at the newly improved South Australian event.
2012 track world championship silver medalist Melissa Hoskins and 2014 Giro del Trentino winner Valentina Scandolara will be injected into the ambitious ORICA-AIS outfit for their 2015 debuts.
The pair will join Dutch road captain Loes Gunnewijk, 2012 Australian champion Amanda Spratt and new signing Lizzie Williams who raced at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic earlier this month and delivered Williams to third overall in her debut race for the team.
“From the outset we will be going for stage wins but also look to have a good strong general classification ride also,” sport director Gene Bates said of the team’s ambitions this week.
“I think we have the team to be able to focus on both those objectives.”
The Australian professional outfit dominated the formerly known ‘Santos Women’s Cup’ event last year taking out all three stages and filling each of the three podium positions overall.
Gunnewijk and Spratt were both victorious on a stage with the former also taking out the general classification ahead of teammate Scandolara.
But an injection of support into the race has seen it extend to a four-day Tour and Bates expects the ORICA-AIS team to face tougher competition.
“It will be a different race this year,” Bates said.
“Last year it was a reasonably low key event so we didn’t see the quality of the field that we will see this year. It means we won’t dominate to the same extent that we did last year, although that would be nice.
“For the race and for Australian women’s cycling I think it is fantastic that they can get a really good event up and running and get it really well supported by not only Australian teams but also the inclusion of the Wiggle international team also.”
After a strong showing at the Bay Cycling Classic and despite a brave ride at last weekend’s Australian championships, the team was unable to re-claim the national jersey for 2015, a disappointment that Bates expects to spur the team on.
“We were really pleased with the way they presented themselves coming into the first few races of the season,” Bates said. “They are all really fit and looking to put some runs on the board early.”
“So despite the disappointment of Saturday’s race, I think they will bounce back out of that pretty quickly and get on with the job. They are all professional cyclists, winning and loosing is part of the daily job so I think they will be raring to go come Saturday.”
The Santos Women’s Tour begins on Saturday, 17th January for a short and reasonably flat road stage, with stage two on Sunday raced on the criterium circuit prior to the men’s People’s Choice Classic. Stage three returns to the road for the toughest day of the Tour, before the fourth and final criterium challenge on Tuesday, 20 January.