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Experienced team looking for a top five overall finish and stage wins
Orica-AIS will line up at the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile, the Giro Rosa, with the objectives of a top-five overall position and stages wins. With seven of its eight riders having previously ridden the race, the team is looking to ride aggressively and sports director Gene Bates is confident in his riders for the 10-stage event which opens with a prologue in Caserta on July 4.
"The objective is winning stages and to challenge for the overall victory," said Bates. "I don't want to designate anyone to a purely domestique role in this tour. As a team, we race aggressively. That's our style. It will be no different at the Giro. When the right opportunity presents itself, we'll be ready to take advantage of that."
The recently signed Katrin Garfoot is the only rider making her debut at the race and Bates said that recent performances by the team mean all the riders will have opportunities throughout the race to show themselves.
"I'm really excited about this group," said Bates. "Everyone in the whole team has been building up some great form and we have seen that on display at the last couple of races. We certainly will give freedom to everyone to show their hand in search of a big result."
"There is a little bit of unknown going in with Garfoot. I'm not even sure she is aware of the depth of her capabilities. I wouldn't at all be surprised if we see her right in the thick of the overall action in the last few days."
Emma Johansson makes her return to the race having skipped the Giro Rosa last year and fresh from winning the Swedish national road race and time trial, she is in in form and looking to match her 2012 efforts when she won a stage and finished fifth overall.
"Emma is good on a variety of terrain," said Bates. "She is the most versatile rider in the group. We will look to Emma to target specific stages. She could also factor into the overall."
Shara Gillow, who wore the leader's jersey in 2011, is hoping to improve upon her best previous result at the race, fourth overall, this year and Bates is backing the 26-year-old to finish the race high up on the general classification.
"We hope to see one of our riders finish in the top five," said Bates. "Shara is one of three riders we bring to Italy that could contend overall. We will look to get her to the final part of the race with as little time lost as possible."
Rounding out the team is road captain Loes Gunnewijk, who will line up for her sixth Giro Rosa, Jessie MacLean and Amanda Spratt will share the roles of domestique but both will be given the opportunity to attack throughout the race while Mel Hoskins is the designated sprinter for the race.
While Valentina Scandolara, the only Italian in the team, starts her home tour having just won the Giro del Trentino Alto which she followed up with second place in the Italian national road race and is motivated for a good result.
Orica-AIS for the 2014 Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile: Amanda Spratt, Emma Johansson, Jessie MacLean, Katrin Garfoot, Loes Gunnewijk, Melissa Hoskins, Shara Gillow and Valentina Scandolara.