After an impressive start to the year, that delivered an unexpected Australian Road title, it hasn’t exactly been the best Classics season for Sarah Roy (Team BikeExchange) after an ill-timed mechanical at Dwars door Vlaanderen and a visit to a roadside ditch at Brugge-De Panne. The introduction of the first-ever women’s edition of the Scheldeprijs, however, leaves her with another chance to turn her luck around this spring.
The Belgian race has long been a fixture on the men’s calendar – dating back to 1907 – and usually delivers an opportunity for the sprinters. It's no surprise then that he first 136 kilometre women's edition delivers a course that looks to suit Roy, who with her positioning and efforts to help teammates looks to be carrying strong form this spring, even if the individual results don’t show it so far.
“I’ve had a bit of an unlucky Classics season so far but my condition is good,” Roy said. “We normally see a sprint for the finish in Schelderprijs but the way the racing has been this season I think anything can happen and we will be on our toes ready for it.”
Riders take on a loop of around 80 kilometres at the 1.1 classified race, before heading in for three laps of a 16 kilometre circuit. The profile may appear unchallenging but it is an event where the wind can shape the racing and the road furniture provides an extra challenge.
“I’m looking forward to racing with the team as we’ve grown so much together the last few weeks. Our team work keeps improving and it’s such an important aspect of any race but particularly for a fast, hectic flat race like this,” said Roy, who will be lining up alongside Teniel Campbell, Janneke Ensing , Arianna Fidanza, Moniek Tenniglo and Urska Zigart.
The Australian-based team took the win at Brugge-De Panne with Grace Brown, but Roy ended up in a water-filled roadside ditch, leaving her sore at Gent-Wevelgem, though she still came eighth in the reduced bunch sprint, which was won by Marianne Vos (Team Jumbo-Visma). At Dwars door Vlaanderen Roy, who had made it into the front selection, then had a mechanical that necessitated a bike change, costing her that position in the leading group.
Then at the Tour of Flanders, where Brown stood on the podium, potential contender Roy turned her hand to domestique duties.
“Sarah Roy didn’t have her best day at the Tour of Flanders last Sunday but she did a lot of work for the team showing to be in a good form. Scheldeprijs, it’s a kind of race which suits her very much so she will be one of our key riders,” said Team BikeExchange sport director Martin Vestby.
“It’s the first edition for the women teams and I think it will likely be a sprint of about 15-20 riders. The wind may be the only variable that could affect the race and reduce the number of contenders for the final victory and this could be an advantage for us.”
The weather, in fact, may provide an even a bigger challenge than normal, with the mild conditions of many of the other Spring Classics this year nowhere to be seen. The forecasts call for cold temperatures and high winds with hail or wet snow possible.
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