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Trek-Segafredo enjoy Australian races but focus turns to Spring Classics

A positive spell down under for the women's team helps build cohesion in the new squad before a return to European racing

Jamie Finch-Penninger
31 Jan 2019

The new Trek-Segafredo women’s team has made a bright start to the racing season, winning a number of events on the Australian racing calendar and showing themselves to be one of the teams strong enough to take control of a race against world-class opposition.

A new team often comes in with unrealistic expectations fuelled by the optimism of sponsors and staff, but the new squad has surpassed expectations by putting significant pressure on the other teams present, including the in-form Australians that form Mitchelton-Scott.

Despite the good early returns, Trek-Segafredo sports director Ina-Yoko Teutenberg has put little pressure on her charges in these preliminary stages for the squad.

'I didn’t want the girls to be super fit here,' said Teutenberg. 'I don’t think anyone did anything too differently to what they normally do.

'They use this to get their intensity and their fitness. The European season is too long, you can’t be peaking here and thinking that you’ll go to Europe and be competitive the rest of the year.'

Trek Bikes, as a brand, has had a strong presence at the Australian summer races, with stalls, tents and branded demonstrations at all of the major races.

For the Trek-Segafredo women’s team the decision to join the men’s team in sticking around for almost the entirety of January came very early on in season planning.

'Right at the start,' said Teutenberg when asked when the decision to come to Australia was made. 'The guys [men’s team] come out for the start of the men’s season with the first WorldTour race and they [women's team] wanted to be represented early on with the UCI races.

'So once the team started moving forward it became clear that we’d come out to Australia.'

Trek-Segafredo have come onto the scene with a sizeable impact, securing signatures of some of the biggest names in the sport. Former Ronde van Vlaanderen winners Elisa Longo-Borghini and Ellen van Dijk, 2015 World Champion Lizzie Deignan and 2016 World Championship Road Race podium finisher Lotta Lepisto form the core of a very talented squad of riders.

'Trek is really supporting us 100 per cent,' said Teutenberg. 'There’s a lot of budget and everything around it. We have really good riders so we should be competitive.

'Boels are still the team to beat, they’re the best out there with some really good riders, they’ve bought some really good riders. Hopefully we can go out there, find some breaks and win some big races.'

The early season in Australia is all about setting a foundation for the high-profile races in Europe. Races like Strade Bianche, Ronde van Drenthe and the Tour of Flanders hold more cachet for the squad than a stage in rural Australia.

'Right now, it’s the Spring Classics,' said Teutenberg of the squad’s immediate goals. 'After that, we’ll move on to next targets, but first up are the Spring Classics.'

Teutenberg is still revered as a legend of the sport, renowned for bringing a hard-nosed aggressive style to her racing. The newly formed Trek-Segafredo squad won’t quite have the same approach, with a more pragmatic assessment forming the approach that they’ll use in coming events.

'You have to race the way that makes sense. That all depends on what the race is, which riders are in form,' said Teutenberg. 

'You for sure don’t want to be hiding and waiting for things to come to us because it’s just never going to happen. You have to go out and work hard to get to win races, we’re going to have to see what’s happening with other teams, but for sure we’re not going to hide ourselves.'

On reputation you would expect a rider like Elisa Longo Borghini to be right up there with Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott). Extreme heat found a number of Trek-Segafredo riders struggling at the Tour Down Under, but they have since rebounded in cooler conditions at subsequent races.

'They did struggle and that was part of not being as good as they could. But in Australia there are world-class riders and the bottom line is that Spratt is hard to beat,' Teutenberg added.

'They have figured out how to have different parts of the year where they race here, have a break again then go to Europe and all that.

'They have so much experience with that over the years. She was on the worlds podium. With Spratty being prepared for these races it was never a surprise that she won the Tour.'

Positive results are one thing, but the focus of the block of racing has been about coming together as a cohesive unit on the road, quite a rapid process that has had to come together under the stress of racing.

'They’ve done a good finding each other, working with each other and communicating with each other,' said Teutenberg. 'That’s gone quicker than I thought it would be and hopefully it continues going well when we meet the rest of the team in Europe.

'European racing is always a bit harder because there is more chaos than here. From this part the trip was pretty awesome, figuring out who people are, what they do and who is going to be a sort of leader on the road.'

With an already effective team in early season racing, there is little doubt that any improvement is going to make Trek-Segafredo one of the most dangerous teams on the Women’s WorldTour.