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  An early start to the 2015 National Road Series with the new Santos Women's Tour. The race has attracted nearly 100 riders has riders from 11 nations. “It is by far the best quality field I’ve seen in Australia for a women's stage race,” said race director Max Stevens.”

The four stage race with two road stages and two criteriums continues the Australian summer of cycling for women at the same time as the World Tour opening Tour Down Under.

The Route

Stage 1: Woodside - Murray Bridge (59km)

The opening road stage is short at just 59km. Some minor undulation in the early part of the stage but otherwise a lot of it is downhill. Expect a fast stage and it to be one for the sprinters as teams chase the first leaders jersey.

Sprint Points: 30.2km and 59km
KoM Points: 15.9km (Hogan Road) and 59km (Murray Bridge)

Stage 2: Adelaide Criterium (40mins)

A 40 minute criterium around Rymill Park in Adelaide. Expect it to again be a stage for the sprinters.

Sprint Points: Lap 6 and final lap
KoM Points: Lap 4 and 8.

Stage 3: Tanunda – Campbelltown (71km)

Likely to be the decisive stage of the race with the peloton facing rolling roads all day. There are a number of shorter climbs on the stage including a KoM point at the steep Checkers Hill climb, around 1km in length. Many of the climbs might not be long but the constant undulation is likely to put the sprinters under pressure. With the other three stages looking like being sprints today is the day for the rest of the field to make their mark and challenge for the overall victory.

Sprint Points: 27.8km and 71km
KoM Points: 42.8km (Checker Hill) and 71km (Athelstone (Campbelltown))

Stage 4: Adelaide Criterium (1hour 10mins)

The race finishes with a one hour and ten minute criterium around Victoria Park near the Adelaide CBD.

Sprint Points: Lap 5, lap 9 and lap 16
KoM Points: Lap 8, lap 11 and lap 14

Sprint and KoM Classification

1st – 5 points
2nd – 3 points
3rd – 2 points
4th – 1 point

1st – 5 points
2nd – 3 points
3rd – 2 points
4th – 1 point

The Contenders

Full start list available here

General Classification

Ruth Corset

Corest won the National Road Series for the second time in 2014 by a commanding margin despite missing several races. A strong all rounder who has raced in Europe before returning to Australia to spend time with her young family. Few in Australia can out climb her and also packs a quick finish especially from a select group.

Holden Women's Cycling Team

The team may have lost the top two finishers from the NRS last year in Ruth Corset and Ellen Skerritt but the team have recruited Miranda Griffiths, while Shannon Malseed has shown she is ready to step up. Miranda Griffiths confirmed her climbing talent when she won a third consecutive edition of the Tour of Bright in December.

Shannon Malseed appears ready to take a step up in 2015. Won the under 23 Australian Criterium title and backed that up taking out the road race as well. Important to note is that her win in the road race came with 11th in the elite race. More than matching some of Australia's best on a hard circuit.

Specialized Securitor

Still a junior but 2014 Junior Time Trial World Championship Bronze medallist Anna-Leeza Hull is also mixing it with the best in Australia. Was on track for a podium finish at the Mersey Valley Tour before a crash forced her to abandon. Hull confirmed it wasn't just a one off result, finishing third at the Battle on the Border weeks later. Finished fourth at the Tour of Bright in December.

Jenelle Crooks presents another option for the team. The 2014 under 23 time trial national champion was unable to defend her title this year finishing third and taking fourth in the road race.


The team received a lot of criticism after failing to win a medal at the National Championships. The team dominant the Santos Women's Cup last year but a proper race and a very strong field will make repeating that difficult. The team has depleted ranks at the moment with several riders out with illness and others on track commitments.

Former Australian National Champion Amanda Spratt was on good form last week and looks to be the best option for the team. Fellow all rounder and Queen of the attack Valentina Scandolara gives the team a one-two punch. As well as being a contender in the sprints Melissa Hoskins could prove to be a threat for the overall as well. Was attacking up the climbs at Open de Suède Vargarda and Boels Rental Ladies Tour last season. Her fast finish and now strength on the climbs makes her dangerous. Likewise Lizzie Williams although she didn't seem to be on the best form at the National Championships

Rachel Neylan

Silver medallist behind Marianne Vos at the World Championships in 2012 before injury left her with a disappointing two seasons. Had a strong finish to 2014 including 5th at Trophée d'Or Féminin, 15th La Route de France and 24th at the World Championships. Made the decisive move at the National Championships and only missed out on gold when the fast finishing Peta Mullens beat her in the two up sprint.

Tiffany Cromwell

Fifth at the World Championships last year in her best performance to date. Very consistent across 2014 but was unable to make that step up to the podium. Finished 10th at the National Championships but didn't seem to be at her best. Packs a fast finish and if her form has improved will be in the mix.

Carlee Taylor

One of the most underrated riders in the professional peloton. Often spends her time working for others and had a difficult year with Orica-AIS. Has returned to Lotto-Soudal for 2015 and has already showed signed of her potential this year. Was constantly near the front at the National Championships. Doesn't have a fast finish so will have to try and get away.

Kendelle Hodges

Part of Rochelle Gilmore's new NRS team, High5 Dream Team. Hodges won the bunch sprint for fifth at the National Championships beating out Lizzie Williams. The 23 year old is clearly ready to take a step up this year and her performance at the National Championships shows she capable of mixing with the best.

Jo Hogan

A strong all rounder who has been a consistent performer in Europe over the years with a number of teams. Spent 2014 with Bigla but after big changes to the squad was left without a team for 2015. Finished in the main bunch at the National Championships in a sign she has good form.

Don’t discount some of the stronger sprinters from also being in the mix think Giorgia Bronzini, Mel Hoskins, Loren Rowney, Lauren Kitchen and Jessie MacLean.
Other names to watch: Ella Falzarano, Rebecca Wiasak, Alexandria Nicholls and Taryn Heather.


Wiggle Down Under

It is essentially a team of sprinters headlined by dual World Champion Giorgia Bronzini who is one of the worlds best. Bronzini claimed the final stage of the Bay Crits in early January off the back of eight wins in 2014. Also on the team is Bay Crits stage and overall winner Chloe Hosking plus Australia's Track Queen Nettie Edmondson and British Criterium Champion Eileen Roe. The four sprinters are joined by Emilia Fahlin adding more power to the leadout. Whoever the team decides to sprint for it will be a formidable combination.

Kimberley Wells

Newly crowned Australian Criterium Champion Kimberley Wells' leads Rochelle Gilmore's new NRS team. Not just one of the fastest sprinters in Australia but in the world Wells will be hard to beat with the form she has been showing in the Australian summer. Watch for Wells especially in the two criteriums.

Melissa Hoskins

Two-time Bay Crits winner Hoskins hasn't raced since the TTT World Championships in September, where she became one of only three people to win a medal in all three editions to date. One of Australia's top sprinters will be looking to get her 2015 season off on a strong note. Didn't manage a win in 2014 but was climbing better than ever making her a potential threat for the overall.

Lauren Kitchen

Former Australian Criterium Champion finished third for the second year in a row. Not a pure sprinter but a fast finisher who spent much of 2014 leading out others. Roxsolt has a strong team and when you combine Kitchen with Lucy Martin, Loren Rowney and Tiff Cromwell you have a dangerous combination.

Lucy Martin

The British sprinter and leadout specialist has had a difficult two years to say the least. It would have broken many others but Martin is ready to move past it. A new team for this year and a strong early showing in Australia would see her on a good path in 2015. Not a pure sprinter but the former track rider has a fast kick.

Loren Rowney

The tall and fast Queenslander had an up and down 2014, with her early season impacted with illness. Rowney bounced bad in the second half spending a lot of time racing with the Australian National team. A smart decision and quick finish saw her jump early and hold off the peloton to win a stage of the Tour de l'Ardèche,

Emily Collins

The Kiwi pocket rocket won Omloop van het Hageland in 2013 before a quieter 2014. Has joined Tibco for 2014 and would no doubt love to pick up an early win. Narrowly missed a medal at the New Zealand Championships being pipped in the sprint for third.

Dani McKinnirey

McKinnirey is a Junior World Champion in the Team Pursuit as well as an Australian and Oceania Champion on the track. Still a junior but will be racing against some of the fastest sprinters in the world. Don't expect to see her win but will be an important step in her development.

Other names to watch: Lizzie Williams, Jess Mundy, Georgia Baker, Stacey Riedel and Jessie MacLean.
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