ORICA-AIS Motivated for Santos Women's Cup

Sat 18 Jan 2014

A fast-paced closed circuit criterium touted as a preview to the People’s Choice Classic, which opens the Santos Tour Down Under, serves as the first stage of the three day Santos Women’s Cup. Previously a three criterium series, the Santos Women’s Cup has expanded this year to include a road race on the second day of racing, sandwiched between the opening criterium on Victoria Drive and the final showdown in Prospect.

In 2012, former ORICA-AIS riders Judith Arndt and Alex Rhodes won the second and third days of racing, respectively, at the three-day race series in the team’s first season. Arndt’s efforts earned her the overall victory. The team launch in Canberra in 2013 conflicted with the race series, and ORICA-AIS was unable to defend Arndt’s title. The team is happy to return to Adelaide this year and have another crack at the series.

While nine riders from the team’s roster will start tonight’s race, only five will be part of the team’s official Santos Cup squad. Loes Gunnewijk and Valentina Scandolara are registered as “independent” racers and Nettie Edmondson and Mel Hoskins are unable to race on Monday and therefore unable to take part in the team classification. The ORICA-AIS five rider team includes Amanda Spratt, Carlee Taylor, Gracie Elvin, Jessie MacLean and Shara Gillow.

“The race is a team event with five rider teams,” said Sport Director Gene Bates. “This series coincides with our team training camp, so it works out really well for us. All nine of our riders were eager to race, and we’re lucky that the race organisation is able to accommodate individual riders.”

“This is a fantastic event,” Bates continued. “We wanted to support the series as best as we could. We’re all eager to see it grow and develop into something bigger and better for women’s racing. The organisers have allowed us to enter individuals as well as the team. We will race in the spirit of the event. I know all the girls are looking to get some great racing out of the three days.”

Typically considered a series for the sprinters, the road race on Monday should shake up the overall classification. Although the overall is an omnium tallied by points, the tough Menglers Hill may knock the fast finishers out of contention of the overall. South Australian Carlee Taylor expects the road race to be decisive.

“Menglers Hill is quite a hard climb,” said Taylor. “It’s definitely going to mix things up. Whoever wins that stage will be in a good position to win the tour – even if it is still decided by points.”

“Adelaide is such a great place to train,” Taylor added. “There are so many roads to train on in the hills. Menglers Hill is hard enough that I’ve actually only ridden it once. I’m a hill climber, and even I don’t choose to go up it just for fun. The men use it during the Tour Down Under, and now they’ve chosen the main part of the circuit for us – I think it’s a great thing.”

While the criteriums in the season opening Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic proved somewhat predictable, Taylor expects slightly more aggressive racing in Adelaide. Former two time world champion Giorgia Bronzini’s (Wiggle Honda) absence will encourage more teams to race with the win, rather than second place, in mind. Regardless of the tactics employed by the other teams, Taylor is confident that her teammates are ready to throw down and put on a show.

“Expect us to be aggressive,” said Taylor. “We’ll want to make the race. That’s what we’re notorious for in the women’s peloton in Europe and that’s how we’ll race in Adelaide as well.”

“I’m so proud to be a part of this team,” Taylor added. “When I put on the new kit for the first time two weeks ago, it was a very special moment for me. I’m really looking forward to racing in ORICA-AIS colours in Adelaide in front of a hometown crowd. We all are coming into some really good form, and we want to give the fans something to be excited about as they cheer us on from the sidelines.”

ORICA-AIS for Santos Women's Cup:

Amanda Spratt (Aus)
Carlee Taylor (Aus)
Gracie Elvin (Aus)
Jessie MacLean (Aus)
Shara Gillow (Aus)

(Loes Gunnewijk and Valentina Scandolara racing individually; Annette Edmondson and Melissa Hoskins racing only Sunday/Tuesday)