The six women who will push to the very limits of their physical ability to bring home gold for ORICA-AIS in Italy are: Amanda Spratt, Annette Edmondson, Emma Johansson, Loes Gunnewijk, Melissa Hoskins and Shara Gillow.
For a team as strong as ORICA-AIS, the selection process wasn’t an easy task. In order to pick the six best riders, selection was structured to give every woman a fair shake at making the Worlds team.
“Last year, the group was already whittled down to seven or so early on,” said Sport Director Dave McPartland. “This year, we decided to give all the girls as much opportunity as possible by rotating the roster at every race beginning with Sweden. Effectively, the selection process included three TTT races: Sweden, Lotto Belisol and Holland Ladies Tour.”
“We looked at a number of different factors from those three races,” McPartland continued. “We took into consideration the length of turns on the front, time to get back on and overall contribution to the effort. Rather than looking at SRM data, we went back and looked at GoPro footage. It became clear after replaying the videos who improved and who was making mistakes.”
Procuring the right chemistry of riders is the first step to forming a successful TTT squad. Knowing how and when to use those riders is the next crucial step. Since Sweden, the team has made drastic improvements in finding this balance.
“Our biggest improvement has been learning how to use our stronger girls more instead of having everyone taking equal pulls,” said McPartland. “Emma, Nettie and Mel can all take longer pulls. If they do that in the first half of the race, then we will still have six girls going strong in the second half of the race.”
“Although we’ve made progress, we still need to improve on using all six riders for the benefit of making the team go faster,” added McPartland. “We should get to the finish with only four riders. This means one or two will finish in the first 30km. We’ll only take four or five riders to the line.”
Although ORICA-AIS might be the underdogs come race day, the team is better equipped this year than last to surprise the naysayers. Well aware that reigning champions Specialized-lululemon line up as the hot favourites, McPartland believes besting their main rivals is possible.
“If it all comes together on the day in Worlds, we have a real good shot at the win,” said McPartland. “Realistically it’s a massive task, but we are aiming for gold. I think we have a chance of winning with the team we’ve assembled this year. A lot of people think it’s crazy that we say we have a chance. I’d like to prove them wrong.”
ORICA-AIS for the Team Time Trial: