Kennedy extends with Mitchelton-Scott

Australian Lucy Kennedy has extended her contract with the Mitchelton-Scott team for another year, the team has announced.

Kennedy joined the squad at the start of 2018, but, after an extremely promising start to the season, when she took second place at the national time trial championships and then ninth place in the road race, followed by fourth overall at the Santos Women's Tour and, over in Europe, fifth place at Strade Bianche at the start of March, her season was derailed by multiple crashes.

Having taken ninth place at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda two weeks after Strade Bianche, Kennedy crashed out of the following month's Amstel Gold Race, fracturing her eye socket, shoulder and collar bone.

After having fought back from her injuries to be fit for the start of the Giro Rosa in July, Kennedy crashed there on stage 3, and again broke her collar bone.

"It has been particularly frustrating because it was a race that I was really targeting, and it was such a motivation for me after that crash at Amstel Gold in April," Kennedy told Cyclingnews in September.

"The Giro was three months away, but it was a reasonable time-frame to get back in form, and it was a race that really suited me. It was a huge drive in that recovery, so the disappointment of not being able to do the race was huge," she said of having to leave the 10-day race so early on.

Yet again, it was necessary for the 30-year-old from Brisbane, Queensland, to recover from her Giro Rosa crash and then get back to fitness, which she did in time for the Crescent Vårgårda races in Sweden and the Ladies Tour of Norway.

But again, on the opening stage of the Norwegian race, Kennedy found herself on the ground and out of the race with concussion, and then waiting for the all-clear to be able to race again at the UCI Road World Championships, for which she'd been picked to represent Australia on account of her climbing prowess on what was a hilly course in Innsbruck, Austria.

After finishing fifth for Mitchelton-Scott in the Worlds team time trial, Kennedy helped her Australian teammate Amanda Spratt to the silver medal in the road race, finishing strongly herself in 24th place.

"The hard work paid off and I was able finish the season well, having good races at the World Championships, supporting 'Spratty' to her silver medal, and then through the Tour of Guangxi and the Taiwan KOM Challenge," she said on her team's website.

"As someone who hasn't been racing a bike a long time, the biggest challenge for me is trying to get comfortable in the peloton in the biggest races," continued Kennedy, who came to cycling from a tennis and running background, but caught Mitchelton-Scott's attention with performances such as a stage victory and the overall title at the 2017 Tour de l'Ardèche and first place in the time trial at the Oceania Championships the same year.

"My main goal for 2019 is to find that comfort in the peloton and be involved and active in every race I do. I know that I'm physically very capable of being a big part of races and I just need to refine my race craft.

"I particularly aim to be there at the pointy end of really tough races like the Ardennes Classics and the Giro, helping the team to even bigger results than this season," she said.

On the news of her contract extension, Kennedy said that she'd be approaching the 2019 season "as both a progression and a fresh start".

"2018 was unfortunately largely defined by crashes, so a new season is an opportunity to leave all that behind," she said. "Despite that, I still learned a lot of valuable lessons in 2018 that I'll use next year, and the final part of the season felt like that start of a progression that I'll continue when we start racing again in January."

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