Santos Women's Tour Preview
13 Jan 17

By Rupert Guinness

Katrin Garfoot will draw on every ounce of motivation from wearing the green and gold hooped national road champions jersey during her defence of the Santos Women’s Tour title.

“I will be tapping into that excitement all year, because once I put the kit on, I can see what I achieved. That follows you the whole year,” said the Orica-Scott rider who won both the Australian time trial and road titles at Buninyong last week.

Garfoot is still uncertain about her chances of winning back to back tours; especially as the form of her rivals is unknown.

“I’ve got more experience than last year. I am not sure if I am in better condition or not compared to last year,” she said. 

“I don’t know the shape of the European girls. We’ve just had a quick glance at the start list, but it will not be easy.”

Pressed on what she hopes from the race, Garfoot, who has also targeted the overall classification in the Giro Rosa in June-July and the world road championships in Norway as season goals, said: “I have settled down after last week, but that [excitement from winning] stays with you all year. 

This week, I want to see great teamwork like we saw at nationals and ‘Bay Crits’ [Michelton Cycling Classic]. 

“I want to be able to finish off the road stages with the top riders.” 

The Santos Women’s Tour will see 17 teams take part, of which 11 are international line-ups. The race starts on Saturday with a tough first stage, 106.5km from Hahndorf to Meadows that should create a number of time splits and set the scene for a terrific race for the overall classification.

The 2.2 UCI ranked tour continues on Sunday with stage two; a 32.2km criterium in East End, Adelaide that will suit the sprinters. The race continues on Monday with stage three, 92.4km from Tanunda to Lyndoch that should see the overall contenders scrap for final positions, and finishes in Adelaide on Tuesday evening with a stage 4 criterium at Victoria Park.

“We are so fortunate this year to have so many talented riders, and have so much interest in the race. We have 17 teams, a fantastic field, and we feel quite honoured to have them here with us,” said race director Kimberley Conte. 

But when asked about the prospect of the tour earning WorldTour status Conte said: “We want to make sure we run the race to the best of our ability, keep raising the bar, and just watch race the take that natural progression. 

“It took the men’s race a few years to become WorldTour, so we just want to make sure we do things right.”

Briton Dani King (Cyclance Pro Cycling) was all praise for the race, saying: “One of the big things for me is to get away from the horrible British weather. It was such a fantastic start to the season last year, and I love it here. 

“The training is fantastic and the race was really great. 

“It’s a great way to start the season with a block of training and a good race. 

“It’s a tougher course than last year. It’s more exciting. I think it will build year on year. I love starting the season like this.”

However, when it came to her hopes of improving on her fourth place overall in last year’s Santos Women’s Tour when she also won the Queen of the Mountains title, King said:

“A podium would be nice We haven’t had a tactics meeting yet, so I don’t know what the plans will be.

“Whatever my role will be, I will give it 100 percent. I am riding for a new team, and I am always super-competitive.

“We have [Dutchwoman] Kirsten Wild, who is one of the best sprinters in the world. I also want to see where I am because the world championships were later in the year, and I took a month off the bike.”

King has moved on from her disappointment in missing out on the British road team for last year’s Olympics.

“It was very disappointing, but I had to get one with it, and look to the future,” she said. 

“I don’t want to look back, and I think everything happens for a reason. 

“I am really excited about what my future holds on the road. “I am ready to up my game this year on the road, and maybe I can get into the Olympics in the future.”

The two sprints stages of the Santos Women’s Tour are where local hope Annette Edmondson is expected to shine strongest, as she did in last year’s race by winning stage 2. But she played down the prospect of her knowledge of the open road stage routes having a big impact on her chances.

“I don’t know if it will help me in the road race,” the Wiggle High5 rider said. 

“We did ‘recon’ of the first stage, and the last 30km, it’s going to be very hard. 

“The ‘crits’ are more my target, and for the team we’ll see who will lead for the ‘GC’ [general classification] here at the Santos Women’s Tour. 

“I will also be doing the Giro this year, and we’ll see if I can make the road worlds team and race [in] the team time trial.”

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