Mitchelton-SCOTT women will maintain its Australian core with the renewal of four key contracts for the 2021 season.
Source:
SBS Cycling Central
14 Nov 2020 - 11:44 AM 

Fresh off breakthrough Classics seasons, Grace Brown and Sarah Roy join compatriots Jess Allen and Lucy Kennedy in committing to another season with the team.

The quartet join leader Amanda Spratt as the five Australian representatives in the women’s outfit.

Allen is considered by Mitchelton-SCOTT as "a key personality that holds the team together." 

The 27-year-old expressed her delight at signing a new deal. 

“I am super excited, I have spent the last four seasons with Mitchelton-SCOTT so I am more than happy here. I feel like I am developing well here and am looking forward to next year," Allen said. 

“We’re going to have quite a different group of people, a few different cultures and nationalities which will make it quite exciting. I’m looking forward to meeting these new girls and winning a lot of bike races with the team.”

Sport Director Martin Vestby praised Allen's selflessness. 

“Jess is a real team player and the glue in our team," Vestby said.

"Her strength is in helping to position the team and she also has a lot of experience now in different races so she is somebody that assists the team with team goals across the whole season.”

Meanwhile, Allen's teammate Grace Brown has re-signed after a breakthrough year. 

Brown won a time trial national title and also picked up a stage win at the Tour Down Under in her first month with the team.

After the season re-started the 28-year-old rode to a top-five in the time trial at the world championships before going on to finish second at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and take her debut European victory at Brabantse Pijl three days later.

“I am really excited for next year, with a few results under my belt towards the end of this season, it’s shaping next year up to be pretty exciting," Brown said. 

"I can see myself being a leader in a few races and that’s going to be cool.

“It’s been really fun stepping up this year and with the change in our team dynamic moving forward it’s going to be really open. We will see a lot of us stepping up and I’m looking forward to that environment.”

Vestby explained how Brown developed in 2020 and why she was so successful. 

“We knew Grace’s strength and qualities as a rider and last year we put her on a pretty deep program just to let her gain some experience with that and tried to build her into a more confident rider and learn where she can use her strengths, and this is what we are seeing the results from," Vestby said. 

“It’s not a surprise for us to see that she has performed in the last races.

"We have seen her strength both as a time trial rider and as a Classics rider but with some more experience and some more opportunities, she has grabbed that with both hands.

"When you start to perform well, you crack the code of how to race these races and how to use your strengths and experiences in the best way.

“For sure I see her in a lead role for quite some races next year but she also has the strength in races that maybe don’t 100% suit her to then go in and be a really strong support rider as well.”

32-year-old Kennedy successfully defended her Jayco Herald Sun Tour title in February and with the departure of current leader Annemiek van Vleuten, is keen to improve next season. 

“It certainly has been an interrupted year, but we ended up racing more than I actually expected to after the restart," Kennedy said.

"My resumed season was solid, while not spectacular, which left me with strong motivation to get more out of myself next season.

"It's nice to have had a win at Sun Tour in a year with such a reduced calendar.

“Mitchelton-SCOTT feels like the right place for me, now more than ever, as the challenges of 2020 have brought us closer together.

"Particularly for the Aussie riders, we understand the difficulties we've each faced and supported each other through them.

"There's also a sense of pride in the way the team overcame its difficulties earlier in the year. The team fought hard to continue and I'm glad to return this loyalty.

“2021 brings the biggest changes within the team since I've been a part of it.

"I think the dynamic at races will be quite different and present more chances for more riders.

"I look forward to supporting many of my teammates to chase their opportunities as well as capitalising on my own. It feels quite liberating.”

Vestby admitted it had been a tough year for Kennedy.

“It’s not been the year Lucy wanted for a lot of reasons but Lucy is a really strong climber so she fits well in that climbing group; as a support rider on some occasions but also as someone who can and will take her own opportunities when they arise too," Vestby said. 

34-year-old Roy might be the oldest of the group, but she concluded the 2020 Classics season with three top-five performances, fourth at Gent Wevelgem and De Panne and fifth at the Tour of Flanders, and a promising of even more to come.

“I am very grateful that I have another year with the team and I think the team is changing a lot next year, which will keep us all on our toes," Roy said. 

"It’ll make sure that we’re not complacent and with the changes with riders and a few bits and pieces, I think it’s a good thing so I am really looking forward to it.

“Over the years I have really proven myself as a solid teammate, I have always given 100% to my team and my leaders and I think it’s really nice to look into the future a little bit and see more opportunities for myself.

“I have almost identified myself as a worker, but now I think it’s a good time for my career to take a bit of a step up and reward myself, and the people who have helped me get to where I am now, with some different types of results.”

Vestby explained that the team was confident Roy could develop further. 

“Sarah is a really strong rider with a lot of experience and knows the team very well," Vestby said. 

“She is one of our leaders for the Classics races and she has taken she big steps this year that early on didn’t always show with results but we’re still seeing her developing and we’re confident that will produce even more results next year - that’s something we really believe in.”