Valentina Scandolara outsprints Chloe Hosking and Chloe McConville to the top step of the podium
For the third straight year, #RoxsoltLadies emerged victorious at the richest criterium of the Australian summer. Scandolara followed in the footsteps of past #RoxsoltLadies guest riders Kimberley Wells (High5 Dream Team) and Chloe Hosking (Wiggle Honda) to deliver the win for her small but mighty squad of four. In addition to winning the race, Scandolara took out the sprint competition.
“I thought we had a reasonable chance to win with Vale, but I wasn’t expecting the win to come from a bunch sprint,” said team owner Kelvin Rundle. “Our tactics involved getting a rider up the road.”
Although the flat, fast, non-technical course doesn’t lend itself to breakaways, the #RoxsoltLadies planned to race aggressively in the second half of the race while focusing on the intermediate sprints in the first half of the race. When Scandolara won the first two sprints, her teammates realised that she offered them an option in the sprints.
“I didn’t know I would go in the final sprint, so I decided I would try to win some of the intermediate sprints to have something for the team,” said Scandolara. “During the intermediates, I felt good, so I tried to keep winning them while spending as little energy as possible. I didn’t contest the last intermediate sprint so that I could save my legs for the final sprint, which also counted to the sprint competition.”
“It looked like a bunch sprint would not pay out too well for us initially,” added Julie Leth, who is on loan to #RoxsoltLadies from Hitec Products. “But with the way Vale was sprinting in the intermediates, we knew she was feeling good. There was no great point to get away otherwise we would have done that.”
Every attack was marked, and every attempt to get away was neutralised. As the laps ticked down, it became clear that a bunch sprint was inevitable. #RoxsoltLadies massed near the front readying for the lead-out.
Forced into the gutter on the back side of the course mid-race, Chloe Baggs had withdrawn with a suspected broken wrist leaving Carlee Taylor, on loan from Lotto Belisol Ladies, and Leth to drive the sprint train. Taylor was first to take her turn on the front, pulling off for Leth to drive Scandolara home.
“I’m not used to having a lead-out,” said Scandolara. “It was amazing. I’m really happy with the way the team raced today and that I could finish it off in the sprint. I’m going to work on my sprinting more this year than I have in past years.”
As Scandolara moves from ORICA-AIS to Cylance for the upcoming season, her trip to Australia to race with #RoxsoltLadies was a personal choice rather than dictated by her team.
“Being in ORICA for two years and in Australia for two years, I met a lot of people who become close friends to me,” said Scandolara, who previously spent her off-seasons in her native Italy. “I was looking for a place to train in the winter. This year is, of course, extra important with the Olympic Games. I want to try to make selection, so I need to start the year strong, and training in a warm place always helps that.”
“It was easy then to come here,” said Scandolara.“It’s the perfect mix of warm weather, beautiful places to train and fantastic friends. My new team decided to race here in January now, so it’s really perfect. I get to race these really fun races in a place that I love.”
#RoxsoltLadies will take to the track next weekend for the Madison Championships and the Austral.