Success brewing for ORICA-SCOTT as Tour of Flanders approachesWed 29 Mar 2017
With top five finishes in five of their eight starts in Europe this year, including three podium places, ORICA-SCOTT approaches the women’s Tour of Flanders with beaming confidence but with a bubbling desire for that elusive victory.
The race, the fifth women’s WorldTour event of the season, is in its 14th edition in 2017 but with a history of over 100 years in men’s racing is one steeped in prestige.
“Flanders is the culmination of this part of the Classics campaign,” sport director Gene Bates explains. “We have had a good couple of weeks racing here now and it is like the ‘Grand Finale’ or ‘World Championships’ of the cobbled classics.”
“Everyone has been honing their skills and finalising their teams up until this point. It makes it a really big event for the women’s peloton.”
ORICA-SCOTT will line up with a former winner and Dutch leader Annemiek van Vleuten whose fifth places at Strade Bianchi and Ronde van Drenthe prove her form for a period of racing that she thrives in.
“Annemiek has won before, she knows what it takes,” Bates said. “She is crucial in giving little bits of advice along the way so everyone stays nice and calm and knows what to do for their role at the right moments.”
The 2011 winner is joined by former Australian champions Amanda Spratt and Gracie Elvin, who finished second at Dwars Door Vlaanderen, as the three riders who the team will look to in the final stages of the challenging day.
“We’ve got Spratty, Annemiek and Gracie who will really look and rely on having in the final 30km,” Bates said. “If we can have more than that, it will be a bonus for us.”
“But if we can get those three into the final of the race with good legs and in a good position I think we’ve got a really good shot at it.
“It is going to take everything to go ‘perfect’. For Flanders, you are going to have bad luck along the way but it’s how you can manage those mishaps along the way and not burn too much energy for the final.”
The women’s Tour of Flanders covers 153km, starting and finishing in Oudenaarde. Tackling some of the same famous climbs as the men, the women’s peloton will navigate 12 ‘bergs’ and five pave sectors before vying for victory.
ORICA-SCOTT at the Tour of Flanders (Sunday, 2 April):