Mitchelton-SCOTT will head to the Tour of Flanders this Sunday with a strong squad full of confidence after a string of impressive performances in the recent classics.
European champion Annemiek van Vleuten will return to the fray after sitting out the last two races and Australian champion Amanda Spratt will be back in action for the first time since crashing out of the Giro Rosa last month.
Brabantse Pijl winner Grace Brown has proved she is capable of conquering the one-day classics and Sarah Roy lines-up after a strong fourth place at Gent-Wevelgem last weekend.
Former Flanders runner-up Gracie Elvin will race her last ‘Ronde’ before retiring at the end of the season and the ever reliable Jess Allen will add valuable support to a strong squad.
Jess Allen (AUS, 27)
Grace Brown (AUS, 28)
Gracie Elvin (AUS, 31)
Sarah Roy (AUS, 34)
Amanda Spratt (AUS, 33)
Annemiek van Vleuten (NED, 38)
The 135.6km course begins and ends in Oudenaarde as the peloton loop around the Belgian countryside, taking in a number of bergs and cobbles along the way. The first of the cobbled sectors comes after just 35km into the race, with five sections and four bergs already tackled before the halfway point.
After tackling the Valkenberg, there’s a brief respite from the bergs and cobbles, before three climbs in just over 15km. The day then ends with the now familiar Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg finale before a flat run to the finish.
The team won the Tour of Flanders in their debut year with former rider Judith Arndt and stepped onto the podium with two third places for Emma Johansson in the following two years.
Elvin narrowly missed out on the top spot with second in 2017, while Van Vleuten has twice finished on the podium for the team, firstly in third place back in 2018, before finishing runner-up last season.
Annemiek van Vleuten:
“I went to get some sun to recover from my broken wrist, both mentally and physically. I needed some sun and a different training area to energise myself and my body again! So, after Liege I noticed my level was not so good anymore and I needed a solid block of training if I wanted to compete at Flanders.
“I went to Sardegna with the worst case scenario in my mind, that I would realise in that Flanders with cobbles would be not realistic. But recovery from my wrist went well and I did some good training sessions again.
“I realise this could be the last race of the season, and for me after five years also my last one with the team, so I am working hard here to finish it off on a high! It’s been super cool to see the team is still in really good form and I am happy to be part of this team!
“My wrist is still painful, but the pain is getting less every day. So, all good signs with this that my wrist is ready for some cobbles!”
“This will be my last Flanders and my main goal is just to savour it as much as I can. I’ve had to change my personal expectations after the circumstances of this year, but this race was what kept me motivated to train and get to this point.
“It will certainly be different without all the fans, but the feeling of riding across these roads with so much history before me, and good memories of my own races here, will still make it a special and probably emotional day.
“The team has shown that we are in good form and working well together, and it’s exciting for me to see riders like Grace step up in these races. I want to share my love and experience of this race one last time with my teammates and just have some fun and give our best on the day.”
Alejandro Gonzalez-Tablas (Sports Director):
“Obviously, the team is really motivated after some great performances over the last few weeks with Grace taking second at Liege and winning Brabantse Pijl, plus Roy was there at the finish in Gent-Wevelgem too.
“So, we have a great group of on form riders and this will allow us to race widely and not play only one card. We have Annemiek coming back into the team too after missing the last two races, this give us even more options.
“The great news is that we also have Spratt back after her crash at the Giro Rosa, she is always an asset to have in the team as a road captain with her experience.”
Ronde van Vlaanderen 2020 – Race Details:
Sunday, 18th October: Oudenaarde – Oudenaarde, 135.6km
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.