ORICA-SCOTT women ready to open up their European campaign strongly at Omloop Het NieuwsbladTue 21 Feb 2017
ORICA-SCOTT women’s team are ready to get their classics campaign underway this weekend beginning with the famous one-day Belgian race Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
After the team’s phenomenal start to the season down under, winning multiple races and national titles, the riders are all in good condition and excited to start the European season.
“It’s the opening weekend for European racing and the whole team is super excited to get back onto the start line,” sport director Gene Bates explained. “The group had some time off after their busy and successful summer racing in Australia, they have all prepared well coming into this first races and thankfully there are no injuries or illness, which is half the battle at this time of the year.”
Being the first race in Europe, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is always highly anticipated with all the major teams lining up at the start which often gives a good insight into how the rest of the classics season may pan out.
“The first races are always tricky as it is difficult to actually know where people are and how they are going,” Bates continued. “There was a lot of movement over the winter in terms of rider transfers, so I am sure there will be a little bit of watching to see who is where and how they are fitting in with their new teams.”
“We will go in Saturday’s race with a solid game plan. One of the benefits for us having raced in Australia already is that we generally don’t have those miscommunications or first race errors and can start already a few steps ahead of teams who haven’t yet raced.
"We will definitely look to have a strong aggressive style of race and really set the race up into our favour.”
The team has previously won this race two times, the first back in 2012 with Dutch rider Loes Gunnewijk and in 2013 with Australian Tiffany Cromwell. Last year Annemiek Van Vleuten made it into the front group to finish in 11th place and now, coming off an impressive win in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road race just a few weeks ago it gives the team a lot of confidence heading into this weekend.
Along with Van Vleuten, 2017 Santos Tour Down Under winner Amanda Spratt and newly crowned Australian Criterium champion Jess Allen are confident and eager to continue ORICA-SCOTT’s successful run with victories already under their belt.
Rounding up the six-rider squad and boosting the strength and firepower are Australians Jennelle Crooks, Sarah Roy and Gracie Elvin which combine to give a variety of options for this tough one-day race.
“It´s a very demanding course and if the weather is bad it can really be brutal however, we have plenty of experience now in these types of races and I am sure the girls will be up for a strong start to Spring.” Bates concluded.
The race will cover a total distance of 122.3kilometres which includes nine categorised climbs starting with the Nokereberg and finishing on the steep cobble slopes of the Molenberg plus seven-cobble sections to contend with along the way.