Mitchelton-SCOTT women head to Belgium this weekend to kick off their 2018 classics campaign with Omloop het Nieuwsblad and Omloop het van Hageland.
After a successful start to the 2018 season down under, the motivated squad are hoping to continue their momentum as they welcome Jolien D’Hoore who makes her debut for the Australian outfit.
“I’m very excited to kick off the new season with my new team in a race on home soil,” said D’hoore. “We start in the city where I was born and we ride through the town where I live now. So it all makes it very special to me.”
“I’ve had a good winter with two big training camps in Spain and Portugal so I feel ready but you always have to wait and see how the body reacts to that first race. But I’m more motivated to show how strong we are as a team.”
“I’m proud to be part of such a strong team, every rider is so strong, and riders like Annemiek (van Vleuten) and Gracie (Elvin) are very experienced in the Belgium classics. Together we can handle every race situation. It’s up to us to go out there, have fun and play the game.”
“I’ve won it Omloop van Hageland two times. It’s really one of my favourite races. It’s tough but most of the time it ends up in a bunch sprint so it suits my style of racing. The goal this year is to win it again with Mitchelton-SCOTT.”
Omloop het Nieuwsblad begins proceedings for the Belgium ‘Opening Weekend’ with a 122-kilometre course from Merelbeke to Ninove. With famous tough climbs added to the parcours for 2018 such as the Muur van Geraardsbergen and Bosberg, plus lengthy cobble sections such as the 1.7-kilometre Haaghoek, the race will highlight riders early season form and is expected to be one of the hardest editions.
The Australian outfit has tasted success twice before in Omloop het Nieuwsblad, achieving a win in the team’s first season with Loes Gungewijk (2012) and with Tiffany Cromwell (2013). Emma Johanson placed second in 2014, Sarah Roy sneaked inside the top ten in 2016 and last year Annemiek van Vleuten took third spot.
Omloop het van Hageland begins in Tielt-Winge with a 53-kilometre opening loop including a cobble climb before the riders continue onto a finishing circuit where they will complete six local laps of 13 kilometres with a steep decisive climb, to give a total distance of 131 kilometres.