Wiggle High5 announce Women's Tour Down Under squad
Australian representation in Cure, Edmondson and Stewart for January race
Wiggle-High5 has announced its six-rider squad for the 2018 Santos Women's Tour including Australian trio Amy Cure, Annette Edmondson and Macey Stewart.
Elevated to 2.1 status for the first time in its history, the first women's UCI race of the 2018 calendar takes place in Adelaide, South Australia 11-14 January.
While the team has enjoyed stage win success in previous years, including with Edmondson in 2016, a bid at the general classification will wait another year as team manager Rochelle Gilmore explained of the squad selection.
"We feel the pressure and so deeply would love to take a victory at what feels like a home race," Gilmore said. "The team owner and head director are also both Aussie so, of course, we'd love to take a win in Adelaide! [But] We will be racing the 2018 event with very clear and specific sprint priorities."
"Our team will be made up of very strong lead-out and sprint riders so, we will specifically target the flat stages and sprint opportunities – sacrificing the team's potential to target the overall classification in 2018."
The Australian trio, all vying for positions in Australia's track team for the Commonwealth Games in April, will be joined by new signings Rachele Barbieri and Eri Yonamine, and Audrey Cordon-Ragot. It will also be Stewart's first race for Wiggle-High5.
Although Gilmore is hungry for home success, she added that the race is also an important event for team bonding and cohesion ahead of the European season.
"The Santos Women's TDU is a very important event for Wiggle High5 for a number of reasons, [firstly] Australia is a very dominant and powerful commercial market for our partners Wiggle and High5," she said. "Our track riders are in top condition early season and it allows them to use the event as additional endurance preparation for the Track World Championships and Commonwealth Games. It's also a great event to use - due to timing - for new international athletes to know their teammates and staff in a race environment before the European Classics season begins."
While the race is likely to be the hardest yet to due to the change in parcours and introduction of more climbing than previous events, Gilmore added the Women's Tour Down Under is the perfect season opener for her riders.
"These new stages will provide a lot of entertainment for cycling fans and followers - we feel they're great additions to the already wonderfully established race," she said. "Unfortunately Wiggle High5 won't be present with our in-form climbers as they're generally just building into their season slowly however we will hope to be amongst the action! We love coming to Adelaide in January to enjoy the passion for cycling and, great training (and racing) roads the city of Adelaide has to offer."
As well as the Women's Tour Down Under, Wiggle High5 will race the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and Women's Herald Sun Tour for a three-race Australian block to begin the 2018 road season.
Wiggle-High5 for 2018 Santos Women's Tour: Annette Edmondson, Amy Cure, Audrey Cordon Ragot, Eri Yonamine, Macey Stewart and Rachele Barbieri.
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