Inaugural La Madrid Challenge winner Shelley Olds' move from Ale Cipollini to Cylance Pro Cycling this year means a change of bicycles from the iconic Italian sprinter's namesake brand to the more established Cannondale machine, and the move has paid off so far with a podium finish during the opening stage of the Santos Women's Tour and a second place overall.
Olds, 35, is a proven winner with a long list of palmares, but one of her best known races ended in disappointment when she made the select final group at the 2012 Olympics in London, only to suffer a flat tire near the finale, ending her chances to sprint for gold. Olds battled her way back to the bunch and finished third in the field sprint to take seventh, but the near miss has left her hoping for another chance to represent the US on a more climber-suited course in Rio this year.
If Olds gets that chance, the diminutive 5-foot-2-inch rider will be on a 48cm Cylance team issue Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod outfitted by SRAM and Mavic.
Olds and her team are in the Middle East for the Ladies Tour of Qatar alongside former winners Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) and Ellen van Dijk (Boels Dolmans). Top contenders Chloe Hosking (Wiggle High5), Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon SRAM Racing). Newly crowned world champion Lizzie Armitstead will not line up with her Boels Dolmans team to defend her 2015 title.
The relatively flat parcours in the desert country will favour the fast finishers, so look for Olds and her Cannondale bike to be contesting the stage wins most days.