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News

Lisa Brennauer flies to third place in Emakumeen Bira Time Trial

Ben Atkins : 20th May 2018 6:46 pm : News

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Lisa Brennauer put in a flying performance in the second stage time trial of the Emakumeen Bira, between Agurain and Vitoria, to finish in third place. The former World Champion completed the 26.6km course in a time of 34 minutes, 44 seconds, to cross the line just 44 seconds slower than current rainbow jersey Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott), and 30 seconds behind Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans).

“It was a very good day. It was a very nice time trial,” Brennauer said. “It was a nice circuit for me, so yeah, I had a good day. I can be happy with third place, so I think it’s good.

“In the beginning we were on quite small roads, and there were some – you can’t really call them climbs – some small hills in the first part of the race. Then there was  super-fast downhill section, all on very nice, big roads. It was a high speed course actually.”

Brennauer’s third place on the stage, along with the four-second time bonus taken on the finish line of stage one, means that the 29-year-old German now also third in the General Classification just 40 seconds behind van Vleuten. The hilly nature of the remaining stages, however, mean that Brennauer is keen to take the race one day at a time.

“To be honest I think we have to look day to day, because the last stage is super-hard for me, not being a super-climber,” she said. “So I think it’s best to look from day to day and take it from there because I think I might face some problems on the last day!

“I think it’s the best for me personally to take it from day to day, although I was quite comfortable yesterday, so I’m confident, but I think it’s best to maybe not look all the way into it.”

As well as Brennauer in third place, however, strong performances from Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Austrian Champion Martina Ritter and Italian Champion Elisa Longo Borghini put them eighth and ninth overall respectively.

“That’s great as well,” Brennauer smiled. “I think the plan was to see how the TT was going, and what the GC standings are after this, and to make a plan from there. The plan is to sit together now and see where we are.”

Third place on stage two, added to second place on stage one, has also put Brennauer in the lead in the Points Classification and she will wear the Orange Points Jersey on stage three.

“That’s pretty cool,” she said. “I think it’s always nice in a Tour that you can wear a leader’s jersey in a classification, and yeah, I think it’s something really special.

“I would really like to keep it, of course, but I will see how it goes tomorrow.”

Result
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott)
2. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans)
3. Lisa Brennauer (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)

Photo Credit: Vélofocus

 

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Lisa Brennauer takes bunch sprint for second in Emakumeen Bira stage 1

Ben Atkins : 20th May 2018 5:04 am : News

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Lisa Brennauer took a hard fought second place in the opening stage of the Emakumeen Bira, in Legapzi, in Spain’s Basque Country, as she won the reduced bunch sprint. The former German Champion beat former black and orange rider Giorgia Bronzini (Cylance Pro Cycling) in the race for the line as the group came in 17 seconds behind lone winner Sabrina Stultiens (WaowDeals Pro Cycling).

“It was a really nice day, and it was really great teamwork as well,” Brennauer said. “Elinor [Barker] and Eri [Yonamine] positioned us very well going into a steep climb, and I think that’s actually the reason that I made it over this climb! In the end the team was chasing to get the break back, which we caught just on the line, but only Sabrina Stultiens was still away solo.”

The rest of the break that Stultiens had escaped from consisted of three of the pre-race favourites for the race overall, in Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott). That these three were recaptured before the finish came as something of a surprise to the rest of the bunch.

“We were surprised to catch them back actually,” Brennauer explained. “I don’t know how Sabrina escaped from them, but in the end the must have been playing a bit or something. We quickly got close to them actually, in the final kilometre. We don’t know exactly what they did in the front, but we suddenly came closer.”

Brennauer’s second place means that she is also now second overall in the general classification and will start Sunday’s 28km time trial second from last. Although the former World Champion has ridden a short, 8km time trial in the Healthy Ageing Tour this season – in which she finished third – this will be her first opportunity of the year to ride her new Colnago K-One in a full length stage against the clock.

“I’m looking forward to that,” she smiled. “I’ve seen the course already, we went there yesterday. So we’ve been there. I like the course, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’ll do my best to do a good time trial.”

Result
1. Sabrina Stultiens (WaowDeals Pro Cycling)
2. Lisa Brennauer (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)
3. Giorgia Bronzini (Cylance Pro Cycling)

Photo Credit: Vélofocus

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California podium for Nettie Edmondson in Elk Grove sprint finish

Ben Atkins : 18th May 2018 9:18 am : News

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Nettie Edmondson took her first UCI Women’s WorldTour podium since returning to the road after the Commonwealth Games as the opening stage of the tour of California finished in the expected bunch sprint. The South Australian crossed the line in third place, behind Kendall Ryan (Tibco-SVB) and Emma White (Rally Cycling) at the end of the entirely flat 124km stage in Elk Grove.

“Usually you wouldn’t be happy with third but I feel like it was a cool result,” Edmondson smiled. “We had a good race; the girls were really, really good, they covered absolutely every dangerous move, they were represented in everything, and did a perfect job.

“They were also up the front the whole time, so I was able to relax, and just chill out and do my thing.”

With virtually no topological features to provide attacking opportunities on the flat Delta region course, and with so many fast finishers in the peloton, it was almost impossible for breakaways to get established. Two riders managed to get clear in the middle part of the stage, but were easily pulled back in time for a bunch sprint.

“The race was pretty tight the whole time, I don’t think any of the sprint teams wanted any break to get too far ahead, and because of the direction of the wind it was only about a minute gap and it was a little bit too hard for two riders to stay away,” Edmondson explained.

“We put together a bit of a train coming into the final, and we were pretty organised, but then it did get a bit messy so I ended up using the Sunweb train. But because of the headwind, Sunweb actually ran out of riders, so Coryn [Rivera] was forced to lead out early. So I used her, but I think I hesitated and I think I needed to go a bit early.”

The Wiggle High5 team will carry the lessons of stage one into the third stage, a criterium around the stage capital, Sacramento, but before that Edmondson is keen to see what Amy Gillett scholar Grace Brown will be able to do in the high-altitude second stage in South Lake Tahoe.

“There were a few things that we could have tidied up personally, and also as a team, but I think it was cool because we obviously had a debutant in Grace, and a return back from Macey [Stewart],” Edmondson said. “So I think it was a good team effort and we’ve definitely learnt a lot going into the third stage on Saturday.

“But first we’ve got a big mountain to get over tomorrow,” she laughed. “Most of us aren’t looking forward to it, but we’ll see how Grace can go. She’d like to have a good one, so we’re going to give her the opportunity.”

Result
1. Kendall Ryan (Tibco-SVB)
2. Emma White (Rally Cycling)
3. Annette Edmondson (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)

Photo Credit: Vélofocus

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Macey Stewart returns, Grace Brown debuts for Wiggle High5 in Tour of California

Ben Atkins : 16th May 2018 8:07 am : News

This week’s Tour of California will see a welcome return to racing for Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Macey Stewart. The 22-year-old Tasmanian has been sidelined since a crash on the final corner of the opening stage of the Santos Tour, in Adelaide, in January, where she needed two separate operations to fix a fractured eye socket.

“It’s been a good few months now, building back up, and I’m really, really excited to see what I can do,” Stewart said. “My fitness is coming along nicely now, and I hope I can do a good job for the girls. I’ll do as much as I can for them, and our aim is to pull off a win in stage one and three if we can. We’re going in with high expectations and hopefully we can perform.”It was initially thought that the former junior World Champion had sustained a concussion in the crash, and would be out for a matter of weeks, but subsequent examinations revealed that it was far more serious and she would be forced off her bike for far longer.

“It snowballed out of control,” she explained. “Initially we didn’t realise how long I’d be out for, thinking it would only be a week or two, and it slowly got longer. Operations went wrong, and it sort of pushed out to six weeks off the bike, and then it was a couple of months actually.

“It’s been some of the toughest months of my career so far, coming back after just coming back a year ago,” Stewart continued. “I seem to be always coming back from something bad happening, but I think hopefully all my bad luck is gone and one of my biggest aims heading into this Tour is to stay on my bike!

“Hopefully I can tick those ones off, and have a good time and have some nice hard racing.”

As well as the return of Stewart, the “Amgen tour of California Women’s Race empowered by SRAM” also sees the debut for Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling of 2018 Amy Gillett Scholarship recipient Grace Brown. The 25-year-old Victorian will also be riding the three-day American WorldTour race for the first time and hopes to be able to contribute to the black and orange team’s success there.

“I’m very excited and a little nervous to tackle my first race with Wiggle High5,” Brown said. “Although I have raced at the World Tour level before, this will be the first time I’ll be racing with a team that has the potential to win. I really hope that I can make a valuable contribution to that outcome.”As the recipient of the Amy Gillett Scholarship, Brown has proved herself to be among the best in the Australian domestic peloton. For the 25-year-old at this level, however, the race will provide an enormous learning experience as she rides alongside such names as former World Champions Nettie Edmondson and Rachele Barbieri.

“I’m keen to learn as much as possible in this tour from the team and staff about how to prepare and race as a top professional,” Brown said. “I really look up to all the girls on the team, so it will be awesome to be racing alongside them and sponging as much knowledge from them as possible!”

The three-day race will consist of two flat stages – in Elk Grove and Sacramento – likely to finish in sprints, with a high-altitude mountain stage in South Lake Tahoe in between. Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling will be well-equipped to take on the sprint finishes, but Brown has been also preparing herself to cope with the challenges presented by stage two.

“This will be my first time in California,” she explained. “I’ve been in Utah the past week trying to acclimatise so that the altitude on stage 2 of the tour isn’t a rude shock to the system!

“Both stage 1 and 3 are flat courses and likely to finish in a bunch sprint,” Brown added. ‘I’m hoping that I get to be involved in the lead out, as that’s something I’ve never had the opportunity to execute in a big race before.”

As well as former elite World Champions Edmondson and Barbieri, and former junior World Champion Stewart, the team will be completed by another former junior World Champion in Lucy Garner and former Danish Champion Julie Leth.

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling team for the Tour of California
Rachele Barbieri
(Italy), Grace Brown (Australia), Annette Edmondson (Australia), Lucy Garner (Great Britain), Julie Leth (Denmark), Macey Stewart (Australia)

 

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Tour de Yorkshire Stage and Jersey for Kirsten Wild in Doncaster

Ben Atkins : 3rd May 2018 12:58 pm : News

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Kirsten Wild has taken the opening stage of the two-day Tour de Yorkshire, between Beverley and Doncaster in a dominant sprint over the rest of the peloton. The 34-year-old Dutch sprinter crossed the line a bike length clear of former World Champion Amelie Dideriksen (Boels-Dolmans) on the same finishing straight where she took what was a one-day Yorkshire race in 2016, with Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) a close third.

“I’m really happy with a finish like this,” Wild said afterwards. “When I heard it was the same finish like two years ago I got pretty excited already. It’s really cool to win, and after such hard work from my team. They really worked hard the whole day and, yeah, it makes it even more cool to win.”

The 132km stage saw Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling riders to the fore from start to finish, with World, Olympic and Commonwealth Champion Katie Archibald keeping an early break under control, Italian Champion Elisa Longo Borghini alive to any possible counterattacks over the top of the day’s only categorised climb and Japanese Champion Eri Yonamine policing the front of the bunch in the second half.

The entire team brought Wild to the head of the race as the final kilometres ticked down, but a mistake on a roundabout from a Canyon-SRAM rider at the head of the peloton meant that lead out rider Rachele Barbieri was forced to hit the front earlier than planned.

Wild, consequently was forced to hit the front sooner than expected, but the experienced Dutchwoman was cool enough to bide her time before launching her devastating sprint.

“I was looking to see if I could wait a little bit because Canyon made a mistake at the last corner and we were a bit too early on the front,” she explained. “I didn’t want to push the other sprinters.

“It might look easy, but it’s never, with a sprint it’s a maximum effort!”

Wild’s victory gives the Dutchwoman the blue jersey of overall race leader, which she will wear on Friday’s second and final stage between Barnsley and the Cow and Calf climb on Ilkley Moore. With such a hard finish to what will be a very tough stage, however, the sprinter is under no illusions as to her own personal chances of victory.

“I think we don’t defend my [blue] jersey, but we try to get the [blue] jersey for the team,” she said. “In Lisa [Brennauer] and Elisa we have really strong riders and I think they are made for this course tomorrow – and I’m not!

“So I think it will be interesting for our team, and I hope I can do something back for these girls.”

Result
1. Kirsten Wild (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)

2. Amelie Dideriksen (Boels-Dolmans)
3. Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM)

Photo Credit: Sean Robinson/Vélofocus

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Katie Archibald debuts for Wiggle High5 in Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race

Ben Atkins : 1st May 2018 12:59 pm : News

The two-day Tour de Yorkshire Women’s race will see the road debut in the colours of Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling for World and Commonwealth Champion Katie Archibald. The 24-year-old Scot has been concentrating her season on the track until now, taking the World Championship Madison and Commonwealth Gold in the Individual Pursuit, but can’t wait to pull on the black and orange jersey alongside her teammates on Thursday.

“I didn’t want to make a big deal of it [being my first race for the team] because it’s May!” Archibald joked. “I’m very much looking forward to it. I’ve been speaking to Elinor [Barker] about what to expect, and I’m really excited about it.”

Archibald rode in the very first edition of the Tour de Yorkshire, when it was an 80km circuit race around the city of York. This year’s event could hardly be more different, however, but the multitalented rider is looking forward to the challenge.

“I liked it, and I won the sprints jersey, but that was a very different time,” she said. “It’ll be a shock to the system this time around!”

Stage one, between Beverley and Doncaster looks to be a stage for the sprinters, while the climbers will dominate the second stage between Barnsley and the summit of the Cow and Calf on Ilkley Moor.

“It’s always funny looking at profiles and things because it really makes a big difference whether you’re looking at a Spanish climb compared a British one,” Archibald explained. “It’ll be narrow roads, especially through Yorkshire; narrow and steep, and a lot of up down, up down. Instead of glorious, Alp, threshold climbs it’s going to be punchy, into-the-red stuff.

“I guess it’ll be similar to the Women’s Tour, that kind of idea, savagery all round!” she laughed.

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Dutch sprinter Kirsten Wild is looking to build on the form that gave her a stunning stage victory in the Tour of Chongming Island. The triple Track World Champion won the second edition of the race – and the first on the same road race course as the men’s race – in 2016, between Otley and Doncaster, and is looking forward to the identical finish of this year’s opening stage.

“It’s a really nice race. I did it twice, and both times it was a different course,” Wild said. “This time one day is a bit flat, and the other day is a bit more hilly, so I think for our team it’s really interesting.

“It looks like a sprint, but you never know… it’s not flat like Holland’s flat, I think!”

Despite her victory on the final stage of Chongming Island, Wild was still feeling the effects of the high speed crash that brought her down – along with most of the top sprinters – at the end of stage one. The tough Dutch rider travels to Yorkshire with full fitness, however, having received some treatment after her return to the Netherlands.

“It’s okay I think,” she said. “I did some physio yesterday, and in Yorkshire it will have been a week ago so it’ll be fine.”

The second stage finish will suit Wild considerably less, finishing as it does at the top of the Cow and Calf. The 1.8km climb, has an average gradient of 8.2%, but its mid section features gradients of up to 19%. The finish will be far more to Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini’s liking, as she returns to racing after a Classics season hampered by illness and allergies.

“For that we have a nice team,” Wild smiled. “We have some good cards to play with Elisa on a finish like this, so I think it’s quite interesting.”

“I’m feeling better than in the Ardennes,” Longo Borghini confirmed. “I had some setbacks with my allergies, and with my physical condition, but I’m feeling better. Hopefully I will feel better also in the race and surely if I’m feeling well I want to be up there fighting for a result.

Alongside Italian Champion Longo Borghini will be Japanese Champion Eri Yonamine, whose attacking style lit up the opening stage of the weekend’s GP Elsy Jacobs in Luxembourg. Yonamine’s climbing talent will be invaluable to Longo Borghini on the final climb, and the short, steep ‘Côte de Old Pool Bank’ that comes just before.

“It’s my very first time and I’m quite excited because it looks like a very good race,” Longo Borghini added. “I think it’s going to be really, really tough and also really fun with many people around us, cheering for us. It’s also very important for Wiggle so I hope that we will be there and we will be present in the main break.”

The Wiggle High5 team will be completed by former Track World Champion Rachele Barbieri and former Time Trial World Champion Lisa Brennauer.

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling team for the Tour de Yorkshire
Katie Archibald
(Great Britain), Rachele Barbieri (Italy), Lisa Brennauer (Germany), Elisa Longo Borghini(Italy), Kirsten Wild (Netherlands), Eri Yonamine (Japan)

 

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Kirsten Wild closes the Tour of Chongming Island with Stage 3 Victory

Ben Atkins : 28th April 2018 12:45 pm : News

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Kirsten Wild closed what has been a mixed Tour of Chongming Island on the best possible way with victory in the third stage in Chongming Xincheng Park. The Dutch super sprinter overcame the injuries she sustained in the crash that marred the end of stage one to defeat former Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling riders Jolien D’hoore (Mitchelton-Scott) and Giorgia Bronzini (Cylance Pro Cycling) in the race for the line.

“It’s really nice. I’m really happy with it!” Wild said afterwards.

“For the team it was a really good win,” she added. “We had really good communication, and I think it really was a team win, and that makes it really special. I think that everybody felt really happy about it. Everybody had a really big part in this win. You can’t win a sprint alone and everybody feels that too, I think.

“It’s a WorldTour race, so I think it’s good for the team that we are competing against the best sprinters. It’s quite a high-level race in terms of sprinters, so that’s nice!”

Wild’s victory comes at the end of a mixed race for the black and orange team, where a huge crash on the opening day ruined what had been some perfect teamwork, and the second day saw an almost unheard of breakaway victory in the pan flat Chinese race.

“Actually the whole week was a bit strange,” Wild confirmed. “The first day it all worked perfectly. The first intermediate sprint was from the book; the second one there was a breakaway so that didn’t matter, and in the final we were in a perfect position but I crashed.

“The second stage there was a breakaway, and everybody was like ‘you can do it,’ ‘you can do it,’ and no one did it!” she laughed.

“Today worked really well,” Wild explained. “We could find each other really well, the six of us. It’s quite complicated normally. I think we lost each other a bit in the last kilometre, but still it really worked very well.

“Nettie was the last one in the train and she delivered me in the perfect position.”

Wild was not the only Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling rider on the final podium, as fellow sprinter Lucy Garner was confirmed as the winner of the Polka-Dot Jersey of the Mountains Classification. Despite having enough points to guarantee victory, provided she finished the stage, Garner’s route to victory was far from simple.

“We had some bad luck,” Wild explained. “Lucy had a mechanical and they’re really strict about chasing behind the cars, so she wasn’t allowed to. She was so far back, so she almost lost the mountain jersey but she made it!”

Wild’s victory is her second of the season for Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling, and feels all the more special to the triple Track World Champion considering the crash that ruined the finish of stage one.

“I think I underestimated a bit the effects of the crash,” she said. “My leg hurts quite a lot – the muscle in my leg – and I hit my head quite hard on the ground, so my neck and my shoulder are sore.

“I actually landed on someone else, so I don’t have so much road rash – just a bit on my shoulder – but I had a chainring in my leg, and I have bruises everywhere. I just landed on everything!

“But luckily I didn’t land too much on the ground. If you look back on the SRM I could just say that we went over 50kph and then zero!” she laughed.

Result Stage 3
1. Kirsten Wild (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)
2. Jolien D’hoore (Mitchelton-Scott)
3. Giorgia Bronzini (Cylance Pro Cycling)

Photos: Sean Robinson/Velofocus

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Wiggle High5 welcomes Kim Palmer as Assistant Directeur Sportif

Ben Atkins : 24th April 2018 10:06 am : News

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling is delighted to announce that Kim Palmer has joined the team as Assistant Directeur Sportif with immediate effect. The former multi-sport athlete from Queensland’s first race in charge will be the three-day Tour of Chongming Island, China, which starts on the 26th of April.

“I am thoroughly excited to join the Wiggle High5 team in the capacity of Assistant DS and can’t wait to meet the girls and get into the racing,” Palmer said. “This role is something that I’ve personally been building towards for many years and I’d like to thank Rochelle Gilmore for giving me such a tremendous opportunity. 

“Having a team with so many talented athletes lends itself to many opportunities and gives us lots of options on race day,” she added. “Of course, all the riders are unique individuals, so part of my role will be to understand how everyone operates and the way they go about their business. I hope to be able to help bring out the best in each of them as they all play a crucial part to the team’s results.”

As a multitalented athlete, Palmer represented Australia in both road cycling and mountain biking, as well as completing Iron Man Hawaii. As a Directeur Sportif she managed the High5 Dream Team through two seasons, and the Australian National Team on several occasions.

Most recently Palmer directed the Australian team at the Commonwealth Games, in Gold Coast, Queensland, which delivered victories for Katrin Garfoot and former Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling athlete Chloe Hosking. Palmer relishes the challenge presented by joining one of the biggest professional teams in the World.

“The Wiggle High5 team is well known for being one of the most professional teams in the women’s peloton and over the years has achieved numerous successes,” she said. “My aim is to continue to achieve the best possible outcome for the team by promoting a supportive team culture, clear objectives and maintain positive, clear communication.”

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Wiggle High5 welcomes 2018 Amy Gillett scholarship winner Grace Brown

Ben Atkins : 19th April 2018 8:36 am : News

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling is delighted to welcome 2018 Amy Gillett Cycling Scholarship recipient Grace Brown to the team. The 25-year-old from Camperdown, Victoria, will make her debut in the black and orange jersey at the Tour of California, between the 17th and 19th of May, and race the Thüringen Rundfahrt between the 28th of May and the 3rd of June.

“I’m very excited and proud to be given the opportunity to ride for Wiggle High5 under the Amy Gillet Scholarship,” Brown said. “This year is a big development season for me and to be able to join one of the top Women’s World Tour teams is beyond my expectations.”

Brown participated in several European races in 2017, as part of the High5-supported Australian National Team. She completed the Thüringen Rundfahrt and the Tour of Norway, as well as the challenging one-day UCI Women’s WorldTour races in Vårgårda, Sweden, and Plouay, France.

This will be the first time that the 25-year-old will have taken part in such races as part of one of the strongest professional teams in the World.

“I’m really looking forward to learning from my new team mates and experiencing how a top professional team operates. I’m keen to give everything I’ve got in the racing and help Wiggle High5 get some great results.”

The Amy Gillett Foundation was created in the memory of elite rider Amy Gillett, who was tragically killed by an out-of-control driver in Germany, in 2005, while training on the day before the Thüringen Rundfahrt. It works with all levels of government, road authorities, corporate, motoring, cycling and community safety organisations and the public to create a safer bike riding environment in Australia.

The Cycling Scholarship is awarded annually on fulfilment of criteria that includes current cycling achievements and future potential, personal aspirations and team development qualities.

“This scholarship is a legacy to Amy’s life and ambitions, and Grace has shown similar dedication and determination in her sport.” said Simon Gillett, patron of the Foundation and husband to the late Amy.

“Like all Amy Gillett Foundation Cycling Scholars, Grace has the potential to become a pro-athlete, and we are keen to see the passion she will bring to her role as a Foundation Ambassador.”

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Amstel Gold Race will be like racing at home for Eri Yonamine

Ben Atkins : 13th April 2018 1:57 pm : News

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Eri Yonamine looks forward to Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race as though it were in her home town. The Japanese Champion has, in fact, based herself in the Limburg region of the Netherlands since enjoying the experience of racing there for the first time last year. Having fought hard around the cobbled races of Flanders, and the windy races of the northern Netherlands, she has now been able to prepare herself properly for the races that suit her far better.

“Amstel Gold Race is held in the town where I am living, so I’m just so excited because it’s like it’s in my home town!” Yonamine said. “Last year, I decided to live in this area after the Ardennes race week because they were amazing races.

“And, now I’ve been living here since last July. It’s just so nice that I can race here.”

Yonamine joined Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling as a climbing talent, following performances in races like La Course by Le Tour de France, where she finished eleventh. A number of illnesses in the black and orange squad, however, as well as several athletes representing their countries in the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, has meant that the 25-year-old has had to adapt her schedule to races that she is less suited to.

“In Flanders Classic races, they didn’t schedule for me but unfortunately I must race them instead,” she explained. “It was cobbles and wind, and races that do not suit me… I’m not feeling super good but always searching for my good shape also try to work for team.”

Yonamine acquitted herself very well in her first ever full Classics campaign over the cobbles of Flanders, as in the wind of the Healthy Ageing Tour, where she helped teammate Kirsten Wild win a stage, and worked hard in Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s fourth place in the Team Time Trial.

With the experience of those races on board, the Japanese Champion can’t wait to show her qualities on the roads that suit her best.

“Ardennes week should be nice races for the team because we are strong team,” she smiled. “So, I’m looking forward to making good results as team and I will have a lot of pleasure to race here!”

The Amstel Gold Race will see the return to racing of Elisa Longo Borghini, who has recovered from the illness that forced her to miss the Tour of Flanders. The Italian Champion originally targeted the three “Ardennes” races of Amstel Gold, la Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but is downplaying her chances this weekend after her enforced break.

Also returning after illness is Austrian Champion Martina Ritter, whose characteristics have also seen her perform in the Ardennes. Audrey Cordon-Ragot spent much of last year’s Amstel Gold in a breakaway, and finished twelfth after having set up Longo Borghini for her fifth place. The French Time Trial Champion has been training well since her strong performances in the Cobbled Classics.

Lisa Brennauer will look to continue the good form that saw her take third in the Healthy Ageing Tour individual time trial, and feature in most of the race’s main breakaways, while Emilia Fahlin will provide the invaluable service to her teammates that she performed in the first Women’s World Tour races of the season.

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling team for the Amstel Gold Race
Lisa Brennauer
(Germany), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France), Emilia Fahlin (Sweden), Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy), Martina Ritter (Austria), Eri Yonamine (Japan)

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