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by Shane Stokes
January 11, 2018
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It’s time for the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under in South Australia to kick off, with an increased 2.1 UCI ranking this year and new teams in the mix to spice up the competition. The team that has won every year since the race began in 2015, Mitchelton-Scott, is bound to have a battle on its hands to retain the title.
In 2017 Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) took the GC lead in to the very first stage and looked just about impossible to beat from then on but the odds are that it will be a much more open race this year. For a start there are some new powerful teams – particularly a talent packed Australian national team led by Katrin Garfoot – an extra road stage and more hills.
“What we saw last year was that it was kind of set after Stage 1 and there weren’t really enough time bonuses after that to get the time back on me,” said defending champion Spratt. “I think it will be completely different this time.
“You could be going really well and then just blow up on that final climb on Stage 3, and then you can lose a lot of time. So it’s going to be really important to be saving energy when you can this week and have a good team around you and really just be picking your moments,” added Spratt.
The race kicks off with a 115.7 kilometre stage from Gumeracha on what is forecast to be a hot 38°C. It could well be a day for a group sprint where we see the likes of Ale-Cippolini’s Chloe Hosking and Cylance Pro Cycling’s Giorgia Bronzini line up behind their sprint trains for the first time this year.