As far as composite teams go, the UniSA-Australia contingent at the Santos Women's Tour is one of the strongest the race has seen in recent years.
Comprised of Katrin Garfoot, Shara Gillow, Rachel Neylan, Lauren Kitchen, Tiffany Cromwell and Lauretta Hanson the team is stacked with experience and high-quality riders, with Cromwell believing that they can go toe-to-toe with Mitchelton Scott – the team that has dominated the race in recent years.
"I don't know if we have the upper-hand over a team like Mitchelton but I think we're pretty evenly matched," Cromwell tells Cyclingnews on the eve of the race.
"We've some crafty riders who can be pretty quick and tactical. We have a strong all-around squad."
The race begins on Thursday and concludes with a fourth stage on Saturday in Adelaide. Compared to previous years the route is far more demanding with stages 2 and 3 designed to shake up the general classification. Even stage 1 – which many predict will be decided by the sprinters – has the chance of breaking up before the finishing line.
The UniSA-Australia team have been put together based on a long-term plan of selection for the Commonwealth Games and the fact that the riders selected are not competing with their trade teams. Cromwell's trade team, Canyon-SRAM, for instance, have decided to skip the race this year.
The team lacks a pure sprinter for the race but the mission statement is clear.
"At the end of the day we just want to create some exciting racing and take on the likes of Mitchelton," Cromwell tells Cyclingnews.
"We're not going to go with a clear leader. We're going in with an open approach as the underlying goal is selection for the Commonwealth Games. We'll target stage wins and if someone finds themselves in a strong GC position then we'll ride for that as well. Shara and Kat can be strong GC candidates for us but then we have other riders who can get results. Michelton has had a stranglehold on this race for the last three years but UniSA have stepped up this year and we'd love to create some headlines for them.
The race will mark the first outing for Cromwell since her non-selection for the Worlds team in Norway last autumn. The 29-year-old was quick to dispel that disappointment as a motivating factor before she races on her home roads in and around Adelaide.
"I don't feel like I have anything to prove and I'm not coming into the race with those thoughts. I want to give a good account of myself and pay back the trust that they've shown in me. I just want to go out there, race in my hometown and give a good account of myself. This race is close to my heart and it's on my own training roads."
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