The US-based Rally Cycling and Belgian Doltcini Van Eyck teams have announced their squads for the upcoming Santos Women's Tour Down Under, which takes place in and around Adelaide, South Australia, from January 10-13.
Rally will be led by Canadian criterium national champion Sara Bergen and by their new signing, American climber Kristabel Doebel-Hickok. Doltcini Van Eyck, meanwhile, will be led by 22-year-old Dutch rider Bryony Van Velzen.
"Our team will be a mixture of youth and experience," said sports director Zach Bell on tourdownunder.com.au.
"We are a team that likes to race and engage in aggressive racing," he continued. "With a variety of cards to play, you can expect to see us active and involved in most key moments through the week."
Bergen and Doebel-Hickok – who joins from Cylance – will, however, be expected to shoulder much of the responsibility.
"Sara has multiple appearances at the UCI Road World Championships and high-level European UCI races [behind her], and Krista has also spent several seasons racing on the European UCI calendar.
"We're really working on growing the depth in our international calendar, and these events give us a chance to get started on the right foot in very competitive fields," said Bell.
"What we're most looking forward to is high-quality racing to start off our 2019 campaign, and to get us in the right mindset for success through the rest of our calendar."
At Doltcini Van Eyck, Bryony Van Velzen will be ably backed up by a six-woman squad that includes current Portuguese time trial and road race champion Daniela Reis, and double Ukrainian road race champion Tetyana Riabchenko.
"The team's extremely excited to visit Australia and race here for the first time," sports director Sarah-Jeanne Fraser said in a press release.
"Several of the riders are using various methods to prepare, from travelling to warmer climates within Europe to training indoors with the heater on," Fraser said of the extreme heat the riders can expect to face in South Australia in January.
"Naturally, the heat and the jet lag are the two biggest challenges, so the girls are getting themselves mentally and physically prepared as best as possible," she said. "Our team will arrive with a solid squad of support and [leaders'] jersey potentials, so fans can see Doltcini Van Eyck in amongst the action when it comes to the flat stages, as well as the climbing stages."
Rally Cycling for the 2019 Santos Women's Tour Down Under: Sara Bergen, Kristabel Doebel-Hickok, Gillian Ellsay, Heidi Franz, Abigail Mickey, Summer Moak
Doltcini Van Eyck for the 2019 Santos Women's Tour Down Under: Victoire Berteau, Daniela Reis, Tetyana Riabchenko, Bryony Van Velzen, Jesse Vandenbulcke, Anisha Vekemans