ORICA-AIS fall victim to 'white roads' at Strade Bianche

Sat 7 Mar 2015

It was a somewhat rude welcoming for ORICA-AIS to the ‘white roads’ at the inaugural women’s Strade Bianche today.

An excited and slightly nervous Australian outfit lined up alongside a world-class field for the first edition of the one-day Italian race, but their dreams of tasting success were shattered just over half way into the race, on the second and longest gravel sector of road.

Until then the race had been aggressive and attacks prevalent, but the bunch stuck tight. Cue mass gravel and wind, and the race was in shreds.

For ORICA-AIS it was a case of ‘if something could go wrong, it did go wrong’ sport director Gene Bates said.

“Mid-way through the race we knew it was just one of those days,” Bates said. “We just had bad luck at the worst possible times.”

Amanda Spratt broke her wheel just as we entered the big gravel section, the hardest one of the day.

“Then a kilometre later Emma Johansson punctured out of the front and Valentina Scandolara stopped to give her her wheel and we were just on the back foot from then on.”

From there the team had lost a minute and a half on a front group of 14 riders that formed at the very same time.

Despite their best efforts, including a chase effort by Gracie Elvin in a group of three, the race was done and dusted with rival outfits all represented up front. In the end it was a solo effort, from that group, by Megan Gaurnier (Boels Dolmans CT) that claimed victory.

“Once it split there, that front group just rode to the finish and we were left chasing as best we could,” Bates said.

“Going into the race we knew that was going to be the critical part of the course.

“And that’s really frustrating because the girls were really prepared well for today, they were on a high from Wednesday and were really excited about the new race.

“But they rode their hearts out, that’s all you can ask for, and now it’s time to recover and refocus.”