The start of a new season of the Women’s WorldTour is about to get underway, and it’s happening just about as far away from the wintery European base of racing as you can get with the annual pilgrimage to Australia for the Women’s Tour Down Under.
The three-stage tour in and around Adelaide is the first chance riders will get to build that winning momentum for a new year, but it is also one of those races where there are so many unknowns. Riders are settling into new teams and are at varying stages of their rebuild following the off-season, some will be settling in for a first race with a new team, while others will be grappling with the shock to the system of coming from icy temperatures to the hot Australian mid-summer weather where stockings filled with ice are dolled out by the esky load.
The field is made up of a mixture of some of the top Women’s WorldTour teams – with SD Worx and Movistar the only missing players from the top eight – continental teams from Australia and beyond as well as Australian national team.
FDJ SUEZ come into the race with the defending champion Grace Brown, though there are plenty of fierce rivals that will be trying to make the ochre jersey of the race leader their own.
The course, too, has changed in nature in the second year of the race at the Women’s WorldTour level, with a finish on top of Willunga Hill likely tipping the balance toward the riders who specialise in the climbs.
With the race to start the year on the front foot about to begin, Cyclingnews takes a closer look at some of the riders to watch at the Women’s Tour Down Under from Friday, January 12 to Sunday, January 14.
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For three years straight, from 2017 to 2019, Amanda Spratt made the race her own, stepping up to the top of the podium and then even when she surrendered ochre in 2020 and 2023, she still kept her rivals on their toes as an ever-present threat and remained on the overall podium.
This is a race where the 36-year-old excels, and what’s more, this year, she is facing up to it on the back of a strong season. Add to that the summit finish, and it looks like a year made for Spratt, who came second to Brown by a mere ten seconds in 2023.
Spratt will be fronting up with a strong team, with four of the riders having already…