IT’S a British team with a genuine Aussie flavor, and Wiggle High5 is bringing a big sprint focus to the 2018 Santos Women’s Tour Down Under.
Led off-road by Australian owner Rochelle Gilmore and sports director Donna Rae-Szalinski, the team has its sights set on a successful campaign in Adelaide, although the General Classification will not factor into their objectives for the event.
Wiggle High5’s roster was finalised on Monday evening with confirmation Italian Rachele Barbieri would join the team for 2018.
Once again featuring Australian track stars like Adelaide-born multiple world and national track champion Annette Edmondson and Taswegians Amy Cure (a team pursuit champion in 2015) and Macey Stewart (a triple junior world champion in 2014), Wiggle High5 will undoubtedly draw a strong local following when the peloton sets out from Gumeracha on January 11.
The talent in the line-up doesn’t end with the Australians however.
Audrey Cordon-Rogot is a three-time French time trial champion, Eri Yonamine has eight Japanese triumphs to her name, and currently holds her home nation’s road race and time trial titles, while Barbieri is the current world scratch race champion.
And team owner Gilmore has tasted success herself as a Commonwealth Games road race gold medallist and a multiple Oceania Continental champion.
Despite being established overseas and boasting a significant international contingent, she says the Australian riders in her team are keen to achieve success in Adelaide next January.
“We feel the pressure and so deeply would love to take a victory at what feels like a home race,” Gilmore told tourdownunder.com.au.
“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.”
Given the strong track pedigree of the team, Gilmore says the race should provide valuable endurance training ahead of major events like the track world championships and Commonwealth Games.
“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 Wiggle High5 sacrifices climbing and general classification opportunities for a tilt at sprint points, Gilmore is excited to see the way the event’s profile benefits from the inclusion of a hill finish at the notorious Mengler’s Hill for Stage 2 and a long run into Hahndorf from Tailem Bend.
“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,” Gilmore 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.”
The Santos Women’s Tour Down Under takes place from Thursday 11 – Sunday 14 January 2018, with stages in Adelaide, the Barossa, Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula.
Wiggle High5 roster
- Annette Edmondson (Australia)
- Amy Cure (Australia)
- Audrey Cordon Ragot (France)
- Eri Yonamine (Japan)
- Macey Stewart (Australia)
- Rachele Barbieri (Italy)