Racing recap

Team Sunweb make their mark in Australia

Team Sunweb had a great season opener, making their mark on the Australian summer of racing with an impressive five wins, six podiums, five jerseys and two team classification titles across both their Men’s and Women’s programs. The team’s promising pool of talent animated the racing Down Under, not only showing the potential that their young and upcoming squad has for the future, but also demonstrating their capabilities in the here and now.

It was the Women’s program that first showed strength at the Women’s Tour Down Under, with Liane Lippert dominating proceedings with two stage podiums before securing second place in the overall GC. It was a complete team performance with Lippert also claiming the QOM and best young rider’s jersey, Leah Kirchmann winning the points jersey and with the squad also winning the team classification after the four days of intense racing. The Men’s program then picked up the reigns with Robert Power taking a fantastic second on the stage to Paracombe and Michael Storer taking fifth from the break on Willunga.

Liane Lippert went on to take an emotional, first WorldTour victory at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race after a tremendous late attack in the rain, and after a few days of rest and recovery, the Men’s program headed to the Jayco Herald Sun Tour to continue the team’s winning streak. Here, 21-year-old Alberto Dainese picked up his first win in the pro ranks on the opening stage, Jai Hindley followed suit to take two stages and the GC win, with Michael Storer also taking an impressive 7th place in the GC and proving himself to be a solid support rider. After the strong performance throughout the week, Hindley also walked away with the KOM jersey alongside the team securing the team classification.

Liane Lippert on her CEGORR win: “The team did such a good job from the beginning and they protected me through the whole day. We’re used to the tough conditions so it was good for us and we made the race hard in the wind. I felt really good so I attacked on the final uphill part after the bridge and I never looked back. It’s amazing, I can’t believe I’ve won my first WorldTour race. The team played a really important role in the finale; without them I couldn’t have won today.” 

Alberto Dainese on his Herald Sun Tour stage win: “The guys did a perfect job. We controlled the breakaway all day long and Storer did a great job on the front of the bunch. The rest of the guys did a good job in the last five kilometres and we almost did the perfect lead out. I went into the last corner in around fifth or sixth wheel behind Max. I waited a little bit in the sprint because it was a bit messy and into a headwind but in the end it I managed to take the win.”

Jai Hindley on his Herald Sun Tour GC win: “I’m super relieved to finish the tour off today and get the win, and repay the boys for all the hard work they’ve done this week. It’s pretty amazing to get my name on that trophy with some pretty big names on there, so for me this is a huge win. It’s for sure the biggest win of my career so I’m thrilled to get it today.” 

Such performances are a result of solid, specific preparation plans and ones that are adapted to the conditions of racing in Australia. The team already started adjusting their sleeping pattern before heading Down Under in order to prepare for the time difference, and also made good use of the facilities at the team’s Keep Challenging Elite Sports Center and Campus in Limburg, in the Dreiländerregion, where indoor training sessions in heat rooms were used to acclimatise to the demanding conditions racing Down Under brings.

Head of Coaching, Rudi Kemna said of the team’s early season performance: “We selected such a young squad for Australia to work on our group processes and added the Sun Tour to the program to build confidence in the younger guys. Our debutant sprinter Alberto had the opportunity to adapt to the pro level, collecting his first win whilst in the pro level and the GC performance of Jai at the Sun Tour was brilliant. We really believe that if we continue to stick to what we know, we’ll continue to build on this momentum for the rest of the season and beyond. The successes give everyone across the team – our athletes, experts, coaches and staff – good morale for the upcoming races.”

Up next for the Men’s program is Tour de la Provence, Volta ao Algarve, Tour de Alpes Maritimes et du Var and the UAE Tour before the opening weekend of the Classics. The Women and Development programs head back to Calpe for another solid training block before their debut in the Classics action.