Kat Garfoot enjoys the huge crowd at the second stage of the 2016 Santos Women's Tour.

Photo gallery: 2016 Santos Women’s Tour kickstarts the 2016 UCI season

by Anne-Marije Rook

It’s heating up in the land down under and as temperatures rise, so does the level of racing. Now in its second year, The Santos Women’s Tour served as the kickoff event of the 2016 Subaru Australian National Race Series and received a UCI 2.2 status, drawing some of the best riders of the women’s peloton to Australia to start their season in sunshine.

The four-stage event is held in conjunction with the men’s Tour Down Under and huge crowds came out to watch the races in and around Adelaide. The crowds were not disappointed as the competition was fierce and the racing fast.

Despite losing their defending Santos Women’s  Tour champion — Valentina Scandolara — to Cyclance Pro Cycling, Orica-AIS went into the event as the team to beat. After a successful stint at the Australian National Championships the week prior, Orica-AIS showed up with two freshly crowned national champions on their squad; time trialist Katrin Garfoot and road race champion Amanda Spratt. The latter proudly debuted her new gold-and-green stripes at stage one.

Orica-AIS did not shy away from the pressure and quickly showed their strength, with Katrin Garfoot winning stage one and retaining the blue leader’s jersey for the remainder of the event. Orica-AIS would go on to take out another stage win as well as two podium finishes before claiming the overall GC and team classifications.

The wins weren’t handed to them though with stellar performances from the domestic High5 Dream Team squad as well as WiggleHigh5. Cylance’s Shelly Olds and Hitec’s Lauren Kitchen meanwhile were never far from the lead and earned a hard-fought second and third place finish respectively.

Catch up on the action in our race reports and through the lens of Tim Bardsley-Smith.

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