Two in top 10 as Kennedy impresses in ‘European Classic’ debut at Strade Bianche

Sat 3 Mar 2018

Australian duo Lucy Kennedy and Amanda Spratt have finished fifth and seventh respectively on an epically wet and muddy day at Strade Bianche today. 

Kennedy, making her European debut for Mitchelton-SCOTT and lining up in her first ‘European Classic’, was especially impressive as she shouldered a mountain of work before going on to be the team’s best placed finisher.

Epic conditions:
With snow in the days prior and constant rain throughout the 136km women’s race, it wasn’t a day for the faint-hearted today. With a number of riders who thrive in the tough conditions, Mitchelton-SCOTT didn’t back away from the challenge despite the eight muddy gravel sectors and some unfortunate mechanicals, including for Spratt. 

The hard yards:
Happy to have numbers following the longest and hardest gravel sector at kilometre 77, Mitchelton-SCOTT still needed to put in the hard yards as it missed a dangerous move of riders at it’s conclusion. Gracie Elvin and Sarah Roy, along with Kennedy, did the work for the Australian outfit in what could have easily been game over for the day. Their work contributed to the race’s re-grouping with 23km remaining.

Impressive Classics debut:
Despite not racing since the heat of Australia and making her European ‘Classic’ debut in foreign conditions, Kennedy produced what has been labelled as the ride of the day by many.

The 29-year-old put in a mountain of work early and looked to be sacrificing herself for teammate Spratt in the final 20km, but still found herself feeling strong and eventually managed to produce a top-5 performance.

Lucy Kennedy – 5th place:
“I was pretty nervous coming into the race. Even without the conditions, it's unlike anything I've raced before. I was prepared for a really hard race and that's exactly what we got. The conditions were pretty horrible. Thankfully the temperature was a little warmer than recent days, but it was very very wet! 

“I did do a lot of work in chasing back breaks in support of Spratty and Georgia (Williams). As we got deeper into the race, I just kept on feeling strong so continued to work to bring back the leaders. I surprised myself in still having something left for one last effort up the final climb.

“I wasn't sure how I'd feel physically today - it's been a little while since I've raced and I've been training in very different conditions and on the trainer a fair bit. I'm certainly happy with where I'm at!” 

Amanda Spratt – 7th place:
“It was definitely an epic day on the bike. It was raining from the start and never got any better. Once we hit the gravel sectors it was just like a mud fest. The conditions were tough, there were holes everywhere on the gravel sectors so you had to be careful with your line and I punctured on the first sector). It was also tricky where the snow had been because there were a lot of soft sections of mud. When we weren’t on the gravel you still couldn’t relax with the constant climbs and technical sections.

“I’m happy with my race today and the form. It was important to me that I had a good race here and tested myself against the best riders. I found the finale really tough - I put myself in a good position but I couldn’t quite match Longo Borghini when she went or Van der Breggen. I think I still have some work to do but it’s definitely a good position to be in. The whole team were great today, unfortunately we missed a move at the end of the long gravel sector and Gracie (Elvin) and (Sarah) Roy in particular did a mammoth effort to keep the gap small.

“Lucy was a machine today. Absolutely impressive. Not only did she finish with a high place but the amount of work she did for the team before that was huge as well. It’s hard to believe it’s her first classic race in Europe - it’s not exactly an easy one to start with. I think her performance today will already have a lot of teams taking notice, it’s going to be very exciting to see what she can do this season.”

1. Anna Van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans)
2. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon SRAM Racing)
3. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5)
5. Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-SCOTT)