The Team High Road women's squad will send a strong team of six to the next World Cup round, the Tour de Berne. While the race has been one for the sprinters in the past, this year's radically changed course will provide an opportunity for the team's leader, Judith Arndt, to contend for the World Cup leader's jersey.
"Judith Arndt, Linda Villumsen and Kim Anderson are on paper the ones most likely to do a great ride on Sunday," sad team director Ronny Lauke. "Judith has been the most consistent in all of the last races, and she will be one of the favourites." The winner of the Ronde van Vlaanderen round will not be the team's sole focus for the event, however. "Everybody will have their chance, but for the other three taking part it depends a bit on how they're going on the day."
Instead of a mainly flat course with just a short hill, the Tour de Berne now consists of four laps of a 33 kilometre circuit, with a climb four kilometres after the start/finish.
"The climb's five and a half kilometres long and then it undulates for a while before dropping down again to the finish. That means anybody who does get away on the climb will have to get a really good gap to be sure they stay away."
The placement of this challenging course on the calendar has posed some challenges for the team, which has been going strong since February, and still faces the Tour de l'Aude in two weeks' time. Lauke said that the time would soon be coming for a "bit of a break before the summer for some of our top riders."
"There are a lot of difficult challenges coming up, like the Tour de L'Aude and its normal you can only hold the form for so long."
High Road for the Tour de Berne: Kim Anderson (USA); Kate Bates (Aus); Judith Arndt (Ger); Chantal Beltman (Ned); Linda Villumsen (NZL); Oenone Wood (Aus).