European road race champion Annemiek van Vleuten will race her final event for Mitchelton-Scott at the three-day Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta, which starts in Toledo, Spain, on Friday. The 38-year-old has spent the past five seasons with the Australian team, but will move on to Movistar in 2021.
"I'm looking forward to finishing off this season with the team on a high," Van Vleuten said on Mitchelton-Scott's website on Wednesday. "That will be not achieved just by the result, but more through working together as a team and following a plan together. I want to finish off my five years with the team on a high, with a lot of teamwork."
Van Vleuten praised the organisers for having organised a three-day race – recent editions have been over two days – with the event corresponding with the final three days of the men's Vuelta a España, with the final days of both events finishing in Madrid on Sunday.
"The uphill finish on stage 1 is not really a long uphill, but for sure I would love to give it a go there," said Van Vleuten of the 82.2km opening stage between Toldeo and Escalona.
"The short time trial" – stage 2, over 9.44km around Boadilla del Monte – "will be also challenging for my wrist because I was not allowed to go out of my saddle and sprint for the last six weeks."
Van Vleuten fractured her wrist in a crash at the finish of stage 7 of the Giro Rosa in September, while leading the race overall. Despite being forced to quit the race, Van Vleuten got the all clear from doctors to ride the World Championships road race in Imola, Italy, just over a week later, with her wrist in a brace, taking the silver medal behind Dutch national teammate Anna van der Breggen.
"I'm also looking forward to the last stage, where we will work together in the sprint lead-out for Sarah Roy," Van Vleuten added of the 92.2km stage 3 around Madrid. "And then afterwards I'm going to cry, because then I'll realise that my time with this amazing team and people has come to an end."
Besides Roy, Van Vleuten's last race with Mitchelton-Scott will be in the company of Jess Allen, Janneke Ensing, Jess Roberts and Georgia Williams, and sports director Alejandro Gonzalez-Tablas said that the 'extra' stage – stage 1, with the Boadilla del Monte time trial and the final Madrid circuit having both been used in the last two years – could change things if the wind blows.
"It's not a super hard stage, but it's a windy area, so we can expect some action if the wind is strong enough, and the finish line is on a punchy climb," Gonzalez-Tablas explained. "For the climbers, it's not super hard, but I think it suits some of our riders well, so we'll give it a crack.
"If you make the front group on stage 1 if it splits up, then the time trial will decide everything for the overall," he said.
"It's been a long 'short' season," Gonzalez-Tablas added, "but we have a group of girls who have performed very well during this period, so we expect some good rides and maybe we can fight for the jersey."
Mitchelton-Scott for the 2020 Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta: Jess Allen, Janneke Ensing, Jess Roberts, Sarah Roy, Annemiek van Vleuten, Georgia Williams
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