ORICA-AIS riders ready for Ronde Van DrentheWed 9 Mar 2016
After the first UCI Women's WorldTour race last weekend, ORICA-AIS are straight back in action as the Australian outfit head to the north of Holland for the second round - Ronde Van Drenthe.
The riders are ready to swap the lumpy white roads from last weekend's Strade Bianche in Italy for flatter, windier Dutch terrain. Previous editions of the race have been characterised by strong winds, echelons and bitterly cold temperatures, setting the scene for a tough day on Saturday.
Sport director Gene Bates expects a hard race due to the nature of the course and the weather this time of year in Holland. However he remains positive that the team is in good shape and ready for the Dutch challenge.
"The course is difficult and it's always quite unpredictable in Drenthe," said Bates. "You can always get rain and cold weather which can have a big effect on the race."
"There's also a couple of really big cobble sections which will have an influence on the race, plus a short steep climb that the riders will have to do a few times. Then add in some wind it's going to be a super difficult race.
"We have the potential to get a really good result and we have multiple cards to play, so we are really looking forward to Saturday."
27-year-old Queensland rider Loren Rowney joins the team fresh from Australia to begin her European campaign.
"It's great to have Loren back with the team," continued Bates. "She's really looking forward to being back into European racing. Overall I think we have a real good, rounded team for Saturday."
Joining Rowney is former two-time Australian Champion Gracie Elvin who welcomes the rugged cobble sections and testing weather, along with Dutch rider Annemiek Van Vleuten. The pair are known to relish in harsh conditions and will have strong support from the rest of the team in American powerhouse Tayler Wiles, former Australian criterium champion Sarah Roy and Michelton Bay Cycling Classic stage winner Lizzie Williams.
Like most Dutch classic races the riders will have to tackle narrow roads, gnarly cobble sections and road furniture, plus the added challenge of three ascents up the VAMberg, which has also featured in previous editions of the race.
Saturday's WorldTour race kicks off at 11.40am and covers a challenging 138km route.
ORICA-AIS in Ronde Van Drenthe (12th March):