The classics continue for Mitchelton-SCOTT womenTue 5 Mar 2019
After a strong showing on the opening classics weekend in Belgium, Mitchelton-SCOTT head to Italy and the famous white roads of Tuscany, for the fifth edition of the women’s Strade Bianchi.
Tour Down Under winner Amanda Spratt will make her European racing return after taking podiums in every race of the Australian season back in January. The 31-year-old will be joined by Herald Sun Tour stage winner Lucy Kennedy, who put in a strong ride on the gravel roads in 2018 on her way to fifth.
World time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten will also line-up for the squad as she continues her comeback from injury after taking fourth place in her first race back at Omploop Het Nieusblad.
Jess Allen (AUS, 25)
Grace Brown (AUS, 26)
Lucy Kennedy (AUS, 30)
Amanda Spratt (AUS, 31)
Annemiek van Vleuten (NED, 36)
Georgia Williams (NZL, 25)
With more than 30 kilometres worth of gravel roads over eight sectors, there will be plenty of opportunities for attacks on the constantly changing road surface in Tuscany.
The course starts with rolling roads which will present an opportunity for an early breakaway to go clear and the first off-road section comes after just 18 kilometres into the day.
The second sector of gravel roads will likely pose the biggest challenge to the peloton inside the opening quarter of the race. Lasting 5.8 kilometres and punctuated with a ramps of up to 10%, the race could well be split apart at this early stage.
The next testy climb comes during sector six, and although it is only short at 800 metres, the gradient will again reach double figures, which will be sure to test the legs with over 100 kilometres of racing already in the legs. The final gravel sector is similarly short, but with a kick of up to 18%, it has the possibility of presenting the perfect platform for decisive attacks with around 12 kilometres left to race.
The riders will be thankful for the tarmac roads inside the closing kilometres, but the race ends with a final sting in the tail with an ascent to the finish line through the scenic city of Siena.
Australian Kennedy surprised everyone with a fifth place finish in her first taste of European classics racing last season. Van Vleuten also finished fifth back in 2017, with Spratt taking a top 10 in the same race as well another top 10 ride in 2018.
“I definitely surprised myself with fifth place last year in what was my first ever spring classic. I rate that ride as one of my best performances on the bike and I fell in love with the race so I'm really excited to be back this weekend.”
“The form is a little unknown having not been in Europe very long yet and adjusting to the time zone and weather. The climb at Hageland last weekend wasn't that tough, but I felt strong and it was good to have a bit of a hit-out before Saturday.”
“I've had more experience on gravel than cobbles so I'm more comfortable on it, but they both require a lot of strength and on both, positioning is really important.”
Alejandro Gonzalez-Tablas - Sports Director:
“We go to Strade with good motivation and a strong line up. It'ss also the first WorldTour race of the year and we know that the competition will be high, as we saw last weekend in Nieuwsblad.”
“Annemiek had a strong comeback last weekend, Spratt has done a fantastic January and she is really motivated to start the Euro season in good condition, so all looks pretty set for us this weekend.”
2019 Strade Bianche Women – Race Details
Saturday, 9th March: Siena – Siena, 136km
- Photo courtesy of Getty Images.