Fresh from the California coast for the team’s official launch and a brief training camp, the women of Rally UHC Cycling fly across the world to Australia for their first race of the season, the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under. The race marks the earliest start for the program in its 11-year history and will be a thrilling season opener.
At first glance, the stages throughout the Santos Women’s Tour appear better suited for a desktop background photoshoot than a bike race, but make no mistake – the race is as grueling as it is scenic. Featuring seventeen professional teams, with 102 riders from 18 different countries, the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under will test the entire women’s peloton.
With a host of unique challenges across four stages, the 2019 parcours appeals to both sprinters and all-rounders. Stage one starts in Hahndorf, a town classified as Australia’s longest lasting German settlement. From there, cyclists follow a mostly flat 113 km stage to Birdwood, making it an ideal stretch for sprinters Summer Moak and Canadian criterium champion Sara Bergen.
The race continues with the peloton facing a grueling 117 km stretch from Nuriootpa to Mengler Hill. With gradients reaching 10 percent on the finishing climb, Krista Doebel-Hickok and Abby Mickey are expected to shine in the race’s first battle for the overall classification.
After a night’s rest, riders embark on a 104 km trek from Nairne to Stirling on stage three. Traveling through the scenic foothills outside of Adelaide, the day’s breakaway has a real chance to make it to the line. With the overall contenders watching each other, opportunists like Gillian Ellsay and Heidi Franz will be free to chase top stage honors.
South Australia’s cosmopolitan coastal capital, Adelaide, serves as the final proving ground for this year’s Santos Women’s Tour Down Under. Fans will be out in full force for the 42 km finale around the East End. This intense 25 lap circuit features primes on three laps, a familiar prize for the North American roster. The sprinter’s teams will control the day as the general classification contenders look to protect their position in the overall.
With such a diverse variety of courses and plenty of opportunity for the talented roster, the Santo’s Women’s Tour will be an exceptional opener for Rally UHC Cycling. Following the race, the team will remain in Australia for a week-long training camp before tackling the prestigious Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on January 26th.
Santos Women’s Tour Down Under roster