Canyon-SRAM will kick off their Australian racing campaign with Tiffany Cromwell and new Zwift Academy winner Jessica Pratt in the elite women’' road race at the National Championships on Sunday. The event will mark Pratt's first outing with the newly licensed WorldTeam since winning a one-year contract for the 2020 season.
"It will be great having Jess in the race with me as a teammate. The last few years it's been pretty lonely out there being the sole representative of the team. Having Jess will mean we can play a little bit more with the tactics," Cromwell said in a team press release.
"We're still only two, but it means we can share the workload of dealing with the others' tactics. We will have to be smart, but Jess has already shown she's a strong rider. So I'm looking forward to racing with her and having some fun together to try to put pressure on the others and try get one of us on the top step of the podium."
Cromwell and Pratt joined Canyon-SRAM for an opening training camp in Malaga, Spain, last month before travelling back to Australia to begin the 2020 racing season that will also include the Santos Women's Tour Down Under from January 16-19, the Towards Zero Race Torquay on January 30 and the Women's WorldTour opener at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on February 1.
"I'm going into Nationals relaxed but motivated," Cromwell said. "I feel like my form has been building well and I have had good sensations during the team training camp in Malaga and continued that since returning to Australia. Initially with my coach, we didn't set the race as a high priority to have strong form, but as I'm getting closer I feel I'm ahead of where I thought I would be."
The Australia National Championships are held in Buninyong, Victoria, where Cromwell and Pratt, who was 14th last year, will face a tough-to-beat field that includes Mitchelton-Scott riders Amanda Spratt, Gracie Elvin, Lucy Kennedy, Grace Brown and Sarah Roy. Other riders to watch will be defending champion Sarah Gigante (Tibco-SVB), and Brodie Chapman and Shara Gillow (FDJ).
"I am very excited for my first race in Canyon-SRAM colours. It has been a busy few months, but after the Zwift Academy finals I've had time to knuckle down to some good hard training over the Christmas period," said Pratt. "It has been very warm in Brisbane, which has allowed for some heat training for a potentially very warm National Championships.
"Tiff is full of knowledge and experience, so I'm looking forward to learning from not only her, but also my other teammates in 2020. This will be my fourth time racing the Nationals road race around Mt Buninyong. It's an unpredictable course, but a course that I enjoy. It has a mixture of everything, so I'm excited to see what my legs have on the day."
Following the Australian National Championships, Cromwell and Pratt will be joined by teammates Tanja Erath, Ella Harris (both Zwift Academy winners), Hannah Ludwig and Alexis Ryan at the Tour Down Under, the Towards Zero Race and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
"I raced in Australia in 2017 at the Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. I loved every minute of it: the training roads, races, food, coffee, culture, people, landscape," Ryan said.
"My form will be fairly good in these early races. I started my preparation early and the weather has been good at home. I don't have much in the way of expectations for these races. My goal, and I think it's the same for the other girls on the team as well, is to get some good, competitive racing in our legs before the spring Classics in Europe.
"I think most of the stages and one-day races are suited to my strengths. The climbs are on the shorter side and the finishes will most likely come down to reduced bunch sprints. I haven't raced since August, so it's all a bit unpredictable at the moment. I'm keen to get racing."