Trek-Segafredo enjoyed a perfect start to their 2020 campaign, winning both the women's and men's Tour Down Under with Ruth Winder and Richie Porte. The women's squad broke four years of Mitchelton-Scott domination at the Women's Tour Down Under, while Porte's second victory was the first men's title for the American team.
General manager Luca Guercilena visited the final days of the men's racing, and he spoke to Cyclingnews about the team's success in Australia. The Italian said the women's success spurred on the men, who saw Porte clinch victory on the final day, overhauling Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) despite ending his six-year win streak on Willunga Hill.
"Winning the women's race was already special because it's never easy to beat the Australian riders," he said. "They are always strong and determined to win when they race at home. Seeing the women's team win helped motivate the men's team and convinced them to never give up. Just like the women, they pulled it off and won."
Winder triumphed at the race after three wins in a row from Amanda Spratt, laying the foundations of overall victory with time bonuses and a stage 3 triumph. Porte, meanwhile, won the stage 3 uphill finish in Paracombe, taking the race lead before relinquishing it to Impey.
On the road to Willunga Hill on the last stage, the Tasmanian easily overhauled the two-second deficit to seal the overall by 25 seconds from Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates). It didn't come without difficulties, though, with Mitchelton-Scott refusing to help with the chase, leaving Trek to put in the work to haul back the large break group.
"They were strong all week, despite facing a super strong Mitchelton-Scott team," Guercilena said. "They took on the race on the final stage, when Mitchelton opted not to chase the break but let the time bonuses go and leave all the work to us.
"That tested us and stretched, but the veterans like Koen De Kort and Kiel Reijnen did a lot of work, the young neo-pros Michel Ries and Juan Lopez gave their all, and then Mads [Pedersen] showed why he's more than just a world champion by pulling a huge chunk of time back on the break.
"On Willunga Hill, Kenny Elissonde stepped and set up Richie, then [Porte] did his thing and finished it all off. It's emotional to see him and the team perform like that.
"Richie is always on form at the Tour Down Under, but that's only half the battle, then there's all the pressure and expectation and you have to bring the big result home, which is never easy. It would have been nice for Richie to win on Willunga Hill again, but he won overall and that's the one he and the team wanted."
The wins are a continuation of the success enjoyed by the team at the end of last season. The women's squad won the WWT Vårgårda TTT in August, while Mads Pedersen took a surprise road race win at the Yorkshire Worlds before Bauke Mollema soloed to victory at Il Lombardia.
The successes meant that the team entered the off-season in high spirits and a winning base to build from, Guercilena said.
"Winning the world championships with Mads and then Il Lombardia with Bauke Mollema helped turn our season around. More importantly, it gave us that bit of self-confidence that had slipped away when we struggled to win in the spring and the summer.
"That meant everyone arrived at the winter training camps on a high, relaxed because there was no tension or disappointment in the air, and so we worked well. Now we've got to keep doing well and build consistency and success, that's the important thing."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.