ORICA-AIS to bounce back at Le Samyn des Dames

Sun 1 Mar 2015

ORICA-AIS is poised to show their famous fighting spirit at the Le Samyn des Dames this Wednesday, bouncing back from their European opening yesterday.

The team returns as the defending champions, following Emma Johansson’s bunch kick victory in 2014, and despite a tough day in the office on Saturday sport director Gene Bates expects to see the team on the front foot.

“Physically, the girls have three days to recover in time and that shouldn’t be too much of a problem,” Bates said. “Mentally they really need to bounce back and bounce back hard.

“They showed in Australia they can do that. We didn’t go as well as we would have liked at the nationals and even with the quick turn around to the Tour Down Under, we were a different team so I am expecting that fighting spirit to come out on Wednesday.”

The ever-consistent Johansson is again in good form and will be strongly supported by 2013 and 2014 Australian champion Gracie Elvin, 2012 Australian champion Amanda Spratt, recent Oceania championship silver medalist Lizzie Williams and team captain Loes Gunnewijk.

“I don’t think we have any extra pressure than normal coming in as defending champions but we are optimistic to get a good result there now,” Bates said.

“Emma is certainly in great form and I think the others are really going to support her well.”

Whilst still presenting its challenges and opportunities for moves mid-race, Bates expects the crucial moment to present itself in a tough finish.

“There’s a few cobbled sections but typically we have seen this race come down to a somewhat reduced bunch sprint,” Bates said.

“It’s slightly uphill, so a really hard slog sprint for the finish, and that’s where Emma has been at her best in the past.  If she can do that then she is going to be in with a shot definitely.”

ORICA-AIS at the Le Samyn des Dames:

Gracie Elvin
Loes Gunnewijk
Emma Johansson
Amanda Spratt
Lizzie Williams