Mitchelton-Scott duo Jolien D'hoore and Annemiek Van Vleuten will attempt to shake up the peloton at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. It will be D'hoore's first race with her new team, and she plans on using the opening event as a starting place in her quest to dominate the spring Classics.
"I'm very excited to kick off the new season with my new team in a race on home soil," D'hoore said. "We start in the city where I was born, and we ride through the town where I live now. So it all makes it very special to me."
D'hoore is a multi-talented cyclist on the track, one-day races and flat stage races. The Belgian road champion spent the last three seasons with WiggleHigh5, where she won Madrid Challenge, Flanders Diamond Tour, Crescent Women Vargarda and the overall title at Tour of Chongming Island and BeNe Ladies Tour, along with numerous stage victories.
This year with Mitchelton-Scott, she will put her track racing on hold (after the the World Championships) and focus only on road racing. D'hoore told Cyclingnews that her two main goals this year are to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Tour of Flanders.
"I've had a good winter with two big training camps in Spain and Portugal so I feel ready, but you always have to wait and see how the body reacts to that first race. But I'm more motivated to show how strong we are as a team," D'hoore said
"I'm proud to be part of such a strong team. Every rider is so strong, and riders like Annemiek and Gracie [Elvin] are very experienced in the Belgium classics. Together we can handle every race situation. It's up to us to go out there, have fun and play the game."
Mitchelton-Scott had a strong block of racing in Australia, with Amanda Spratt winning the overall title at the Santos Women's Tour. Van Vleuten, the time trial world champion, joined the team in Australia, where she won the Women's Herald Sun Tour individual time trial. She placed third at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last year, behind winner Lucinda Brand and runner-up Chantal Blaak.
Van Vleuten will only race Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, whereas D'hoore will also race Omloop het Hageland on Sunday. She has won it twice and hopes to bring her new team a victory there too.
"I've won Omloop van Hageland two times. It's really one of my favourite races. It's tough but most of the time it ends up in a bunch sprint, so it suits my style of racing. The goal this year is to win it again with Mitchelton-Scott."
Mitchleton-Scott roster for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Omloop het Hageland: Jessica Allen, Gracie Elvin, Jolien D'hoore, Sarah Roy, Amanda Spratt, Annemiek van Vleuten (Nieuwsblad only) and Georgia Williams (Hageland only).
Read the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite Women 2018 preview here.