Spratt: Tour Down Under is far from over - Santos Women's Tour shorts
Gilmore’s girls racing with smiles, Wild days in Qatar are over
Spratt: TDU is far from over
Amanda Spratt (Orica-Scott) may have soloed to an impressive win on stage 1 of the Santos Women's Tour to take the lead but the Australian ruled out any chance of complacency creeping in.
Spratt took the first stage with a 19-second advantage over Janneke Ensing, with the next rider home almost a minute down. With three stages left and two of them criteriums, Spratt is in control and has the backing of a strong team around her.
"We have a really strong Orica-Scott team here and although we had pressure on us coming in, the plan was to make it a really hard race. We did that well and I'm happy to have finished it off for the team," she told Cyclingnews after pulling on the leader's jersey.
"It's nice to have that buffer but we've still got two criteriums and one hard road stage to go. It's definitely not done and dusted yet but we're in a good position. I've got a really strong team around me so I hope we can hold onto it."
With their tails up, it is unlikely that Orica-Scott will simply look to defend the race lead. Their team is stacked with in-form riders and although they have yet to talk tactics, there's every chance they will look to extend their domination.
"We've not really spoke much about it but we like to race aggressively and we still want to win stages as well. If we can fit that, and the GC, into the team plan, we definitely will."
Gilmore's girls racing with smiles
The Wiggle-High5 team were shut out of the results on stage 1 of the race but Rochelle Gilmore's team were able to draw on the positives.
Gilmore's team have brought three new signings to the race, and with no GC aspirations the squad are looking to infiltrate breaks and compete in the sprints.
"The girls are having a great time and that's lovely to see," Gilmore told Cyclingnews. "We've got three new riders here in Garner, Leth and Cure and they're all having a great time, which is what it's about for us here in Australia. We've got young and new riders, and no GC rider here.
"The objective of this week is to get to know each other and have a good time. Obviously the big crit is a target for us with the young ones. It won't be easy but we'll give it a go. The communication and morale is good but the form is probably not where it needs to be to win a big race. We’ll still give it a real big go."
Wild days in Qatar are over
No other rider probably mourned the loss of the Ladies Tour of Qatar more than Kirsten Wild.
The 34-year-old won the race four times, and claimed a record 10 stage wins during what has already been a glittering career. With the race pulled from the calendar – along with the men's version – there is now a sizable hole in the women's calendar.
"It's a real shame about Qatar. I started to train for that so this race was meant to be my preparation for Qatar but since the race has been cancelled the first race back for me after Tour Down Under is Omloop. There's no big race now between TDU and the Classics now and that's a real shame because Qatar was such a nice race. I'll have a training camp instead," she told Cyclingnews.
Wild finished 13th on the first stage of the Santos Women's Tour; making her debut for her new Cylance Pro Cycling Team after moving in the off-season. The Dutch rider has further chances to shine in the coming days, and fought back after a difficult start in Adelaide.
"Today was really hard. We'd checked the course before and we knew that the final 25 kilometres would be really hard," she explained. "I was dropped on the last climb, came back and finished in the second group. For me it was a really hard day.
"We're taking it day by day. We have a lot of options for stage wins. We've a really nice atmosphere and the girls are really nice. It feels really professional and this is only our first race together. We raced well together and really communicated."
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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.