Mitchelton-SCOTT women’s squad concluded a whirlwind 2020 season on Sunday at the Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta, with a consistent run of wins and podium finishes throughout an interrupted racing year.
With just 34 race days on offer following the cancellation of a number events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team made use of their opportunities, picking up 10 UCI race wins, 10 podium places and 11 top-five finishes.
Australian Amanda Spratt kicked-off the year in perfect fashion as she claimed her third national road race title back in January, while 28-year-old Grace Brown capped off her breakout season with podium at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and a debut victory on European soil at Brabantse Pijl in October.
It was a strong start to the year in Australia, with Brown taking the silver medal in the national time trial championships, then racing to bronze in the road race behind winner Spratt, the third green and gold jersey of the 33-year-old’s career.
In the team’s home race, the Santos Tour Down Under, Spratt narrowly missed out on making it a hat-trick of overall wins, finishing third overall after claiming victory on stage two. Another third place followed for Spratt at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race before Lucy Kennedy’s successful title defence at the two-day Herald Sun Tour.
A return to Europe didn’t halt the run of success as world champion Annemiek van Vleuten claimed her first win in the rainbow bands at the first time of asking, soloing to victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in early February.
On a Roll
After more than six months with no racing, Mitchelton-SCOTT returned to action with a bang as Van Vleuten powered to four successive victories, including retaining her Strade Bianche crown with an imperious ride on the gravel roads of Italy.
Victory in the European road race championships in Plouay showed that 38-year-old was primed to defend her Giro Rosa title in September, and the defence got off to the perfect start with a solid third place in the opening stage team time trial before an emphatic win on stage two.
However, disaster struck on stage six when Van Vleuten crashed out while leading the race, alongside teammate Spratt, ending the team’s chances of making it three straight wins at the only women’s Grand Tour.
The late season classics showed that the future is bright in the tough one-day races with Brown taking an impressive second place at Liege-Bastogne-Liege in her debut appearance at the event. She then backed this up three days later with a superb solo victory at Brabantse Pijl, announcing herself as a serious contender in the hilly one-day classics.
The cobbled classics also showed Sarah Roy’s potential in the gritty Belgian races as she took two top five finishes in Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders, before navigating the crosswinds to sprint to fourth place at Brugge-De Panne.
2020 was also the final season of Gracie Elvin’s nine year pro career, eight of which were spent with Mitchelton-SCOTT. The Australian heads into retirement as a two-time national road race champion as well as a host of victories and podiums across Europe, including a memorable second place finish in the 2017 Tour of Flanders.
Martin Vestby – Sports Director:
“I think in a lot of ways the season has been successful, we had a lot of wins and it’s also nice to see that we are winning with more riders. Of course, there were some ups and downs like every year, some good and bad things, but mostly we had a lot of positives coming out of this year.
“Also as a team, after the situation that happened this year, we proved that we have a really good group of people to work with, both staff and riders. The riders have been really strong together and have worked themselves through this difficult period.
“Everybody was really excited to get back to racing and it was a situation that you didn’t know if the next race was going to be the last one, so everyone was grabbing every chance they could.
“Everything went well in the Giro, it unfolded just as we expected it to and we were in a good position going into the final two stages where we also knew we had our strengths and we could really finish it off.
“When both of your GC riders crash out, it flips everything around. So, it’s true that ‘that’s racing’ and it was maybe one of the downsides of this year for us, together with the COVID-19 situation, but having a team who steps up and performs really well in that period after is really nice to see.
“In total, with the start of the season in Australia and then finishing off with strong results in the classics, I think we should be pleased. It’s nice to see that we have a group of riders who care for each other and are still a ‘team’ even if they’re sitting at home for six months.”
Mitchelton-SCOTT Women – 2020 UCI Victories:
- National Championships Australia – Road Race: Amanda Spratt
- Tour Down Under – Stage 2: Amanda Spratt
- Herald Sun Tour – Overall: Lucy Kennedy
- Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: Annemiek van Vleuten
- Emakumeen Nafarroako Klasikoa: Annemiek van Vleuten
- Clasica Femenina Navarra: Annemiek van Vleuten
- Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria: Annemiek van Vleuten
- Strade Bianche: Annemiek van Vleuten
- Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile – Stage 2: Annemiek van Vleuten
- Brabantse Pijl – Grace Brown
Photos Courtesy of Bettini Photo, Con Chronis and Hikari Media.