Mitchelton-Scott's Sarah Roy has looked back on her 2018 season and dubbed it a "career standout". With victory at the one-day Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik and a stage win at the OVO Energy Women's Tour, 2019 could yet be even better as the Australian takes on more responsibility on the team.
Roy will become the team's main sprinter next season following the departure of Jolien d'Hoore to Boels-Dolmans for 2019. A change in mindset is on the cards as the 32-year-old transitions from being the last lead-out rider to the rider being led out for a potential win in almost every race, but Roy says that she's up for the challenge.
"I'm very excited to be stepping into the sprinter role for the team now," Roy said on Mitchelton-Scott's website. "I learned a lot from Jolien this year, and feel I've gained lots of experience that may have been missing in my earlier years.
"Being the sprinter for the team will change the way I'm utilised in some of the races, and will be a bit of a mental shift for me after being the final lead-out rider this season," she continued. "Now, in those races in which I'm sprinting, the actual team result comes down to me in the last few hundred metres, which in the past has felt like a lot of pressure mostly from myself. But a few years on, the team and I are ready for it."
D'Hoore's move to Boels-Dolmans for 2019 has opened the sprint door for Roy. The Belgian's four victories this season, including two stage wins at the Giro Rosa, may be missed, but if Roy is able to slip into D'Hoore's shoes, then the transition period could be lessened.
"Jolien was very generous with her knowledge and a really positive influence throughout the season," Roy said. "The work we put in as a team to dial down the lead-out train helped develop us as racers and was also really fun.
Roy can look back on a successful season that has built on her three previous years on the team. Stage wins at the Boels Rental Ladies Tour in 2016 and the OVO Energy Women's Tour in 2017 showed that Roy had a bright future, but her two victories in 2018, along with a string of other top placings, proved that the time is right for her to take the next step.
"Those few results I achieved personally were really nice. It's good to have a little confidence booster like that for yourself, your coach, your team and all the people in your corner."
"This season for me has been a career standout for sure," she said. "I'm really humbled by the entire year. Thinking back on it makes me quite emotional, actually.
"From the amazing work with my coach over the Aussie summer, to being part of Australia's silver medal [for Amanda Spratt] at the road world championships in September, it's all been pretty amazing, and I feel like I've grown into a new person and athlete."
Roy pointed to the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile – the Giro Rosa – as a particular highlight, where the team finished second in the team time trial on the opening stage, took six stage wins via D'Hoore, Spratt and Annemiek van Vleuten, and won the overall classification thanks to Van Vleuten, with Spratt finishing in third.
"It was such an incredible 10 days of our lives, even though of course there were many more days put into the planning and preparation for it. But those actual 10 days of racing were unreal.
"As a team, we have done some really amazing things this year," she continued, "but we've also made a few little mistakes here and there that we've learned from, so we can take all of this positivity, momentum and these lessons into 2019 and do even better."
Aside from leading the team in bunch sprints next year, Roy also wants to show herself at the spring one-day races.
"I plan to target the cobbled classics next season," she said. "The team and I are really keen to show ourselves there.
"We have a really strong Classics team and all of my preparations now are for March. I'm really looking forward to it."