So says the outfit’s sporting director Fortunato Lacquaniti, who returns to Adelaide with a squad led by last year’s sprint classification winner Chloe Hosking.
The sprint queen will be looking to take it up a notch and claim the leader’s blue jersey in 2018, particularly as the conspicuous fluoro yellow uniforms of the team flash past the locals in the four stages commencing from January 11.
The nature of the Santos WTDU gives European teams like Ale Cipollini a strong opportunity to prepare for classics season back home, and with a tougher set of stages this year, the team’s Italian riders will be keen to take advantage.
“Last year's experience [in the WTDU] was very important for the girls on the team, because they can find good shape for the first classic race in Europe,” Lacquaniti told tourdownunder.com.au.
“The European girls have to work really hard because, for us, it is winter at this time of year, and it isn’t easy to come to Australia in January!
“So they have to do a lot of gym and “volume of hours” on the bike [to prepare].”
Lacquaniti was in no doubt as to his expectations from his team for the race – winning is a priority.
Hosking won the Barossa stage in last year’s event, and pushing towards outright honours is something the team has at the top of its objectives list.
That will be a tougher ask in 2018, with the race now classified at a UCI 2.1 level, it will draw an even higher standard of team roster for the race.
“It isn’t easy, but we’re coming to win!” Lacquaniti said.
“Chloe Hosking is our leader and she is shaping for a really good stage race at the WTDU.
“I’m really proud of Chloe, she can do big things. All of the team believes in Chloe, so we come to Adelaide with a winners’ spirit!”
The Santos Women’s Tour Down Under takes place from Thursday 11-Sunday 14 January 2018.
Ale Cipollini team roster
Chloe Hosking (Australia)
Soraya Paladin (Italy) Anna Trevisi (Italy)
Roxanne Knetemann (Netherlands)
Mayuko Hagiwara (Japan)
Karlijn Swinkels (Netherlands)