• Mitchelton-Scott celbrate their six stage wins, 1st and 3rd on GC plus the mountains and sprint jerseys at the Giro Rosa (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Six wins from ten stages of the Giro Rosa didn't overstate the Australian team's dominance at the premier women's event.
By
Cycling Central

17 Jul 2018 - 8:15 AM 

The Australian-registered squad went into the Giro Rosa with high ambitions after a third-placed finish with star rider Annemiek van Vleuten last year and superb 2018 form from Australian climber Amanda Spratt who was fifth last season.

Last year's Giro represented a sore spot for the squad, with van Vleuten looking to be on her way to overall victory until she and the team missed a split in the race on a flat stage and she slipped down to third overall.ย 

The race got off to a good start this year as Mitchelton-Scott finished second in the team time trial, just one second shy of world champions in the discipline, Team Sunweb. Thatย  secured them a good lead on most of their rivals for the Pink Jersey before the race went to a series of flatter stages.

Women gearing up to race La Course
It's the fifth edition of the women's showcase event at the Tour de France, with the event again set to be one of the biggest on the UCI Womens World Tour calendar.

Big off-season recruit Jolien D'Hoore came to the fore in Stages 3 and 4, winning both in bunch sprints after the team, Sarah Roy in particular, set her up to go for the win. World Tour rookie Lucy Kennedy unfortunately bowed out of the race on Stage 3 after crashing and breaking her collarbone, the second time for the towering Aussie climber this year after some very promising early results.

That left the team a rider down heading into the mountainous stages, but it proved to be little obstacle. Spratt took her maiden Giro Rosa stage victory with a well-timed attack on Stage 6 to the summit of Gerola Alta.

That put the Australian in the lead, taking the Pink Jersey off Ruth Winder (Team Sunweb). The overall lead was to be short-lived for Spratt, but was kept within the team as van Vleuten completely dominated the Stage 7 uphill time trial, taking the win by a staggering two minutes and 38 seconds over her nearest rival, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla).ย 

Van Vleuten followed the win with another powerhouse display on the Monte Zoncolan in Stage 9, with the Dutch women conquering one of the hardest climbs in cycling, again beating Moolman-Pasio as she covered the South African's attack before soloing to the win.ย 

Then in Stage 10 with the race win in the bag, it was again a chance for van Vleuten to go on the attack on a hilly course. She did just that, accelerating away again to take her third win of the race and confirm the overall win as well.

"This is a dream come true, not only for me, but for the whole team," van Vleuten said.ย "We prepared so well for this race and to win six stages, the overall and three jerseys and do it in this way racing with confidence and control it's a super story for the team.

"(That's) especially because before, I thought that I would never win the Giro Rosa. My first one was in 2010 and I always thought that I am not a climber, so it won't happen, but yesterday to win on the Zoncolan and then today to win the GC, it's very special."

Van Vleuten, 35, is in career-best form at the moment, impressive considering the heights of her storied cycling life. Her progression with the Australian squad has been the catalyst for the team improving as well.ย 

It wasn't so long ago that the team would rely upon their foreign stars like Emma Johansson to take the wins while the rest were there as back-up. That has changed in the last few years, with Australian riders like Gracie Elvin, Katrin Garfoot, Sarah Roy, Amanda Spratt and Lucy Kennedy emerging as leaders in their own right, taking top results at the biggest races.

Spratt, in particular, has been in superb nick so far this season, so impressive have her results been that she's sitting second overall in the UCI individual riders standings. The Sydneysider became only the third Australian to stand on the overall podium at the end of the Giro, sharing the distinction with Kathy Watt and Elizabeth Hepple.

She was understandably ecstatic after her performance in the tour and that of the team.ย 

โ€œThe riders, the staff, everyone has worked so hard for this," said Spratt, "itโ€™s giving me goosebumps to see how well we have all worked together. Everybody was committed to the plan and we have achieved so much with a lot of selfless teamwork, it has been an unforgettable 10 days.โ€ย 

The team now moves to France to contest La Course by Le Tour de France, one of the best opportunities to expose womens cycling to the world and back in Australia.

SBS will be broadcasting the 2018 edition of La Course by Le Tour de France, with coverage starting from 7.00 PM AEST (WA, SA, check local guides).ย