Trek-Segafredo women target Flemish classics

In its debut season, the Trek-Segafredo women's team is aiming to win big on the cobblestones this spring.

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Ina-Yoko Teutenberg has a big goal for her Trek-Segafredo pro women’s team: Win on the cobblestones.

“The next two months are going to be important because we’d love to win one of the Flemish races,” Teutenberg told VeloNews. “We have huge support by Trek. We have the resources we need to do it. So our goals are to be winning big races, and the classics are big part of that.”

The lofty goal puts Trek-Segafredo’s crosshairs on a 10-day stretch of racing in late March and early April. This year the Belgian classics kick off with the Driedaggse Brugge-de Panne women’s WorldTour race on March 28. Four days later the women’s WorldTour teams tackle Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields on March 31. The smaller semi-classic Dwars Door Vlaanderen falls on April 3, and the block of racing concludes at the Ronde van Vlaanderen on April 7.

Tentenberg said a victory at any of the three races would be a boon for the new squad, which kicked off its 2019 season at Australia’s Tour Down Under.

“I’m not really caring about which classic it should be,” Teutenberg said. “We want to win one of the earlier races and then keep building on that success throughout the season.”

The UCI women’s WorldTour kicks off March 9 with Italy’s Strade-Bianche, and continues the following weekend with the Ronde van Drenthe in The Netherlands.

Launched during the offseason, Trek-Segafredo turned heads with a flurry of marquee signings in the waning months of 2018. The first hire was 2016 world champion Lizzie Deignan, and subsequent hires included Ellen van Dijk, Elisa Longo Borghini, Lotta Lepisto, and Trixi Worrack, all of whom have won major UCI Women’s WorldTour races.

American riders Tayler Wiles and Ruth Winder also joined the squad.

On paper, the impressive roster places Trek-Segafredo on par with some of the strongest teams in the UCI women’s WorldTour. It may not have the sheer star power of Dutch squad Boels-Dolmans. However its lineup places it alongside Canyon-SRAM, Sunweb, and Mitchelton-Scott.

Yet new teams often struggle in pro cycling, as star riders learn how to coordinate their efforts with new teammates. Top talent does not always guarantee success.

Teutenberg believes Trek-Segafredo’s roster of stars, up-and-coming talent, and veterans will help the squad overcome any first-year jitters. Many of the riders were hired before Teutenberg was hired, yet the German is confident that her squad will be competitive at the one-day races.

“I wanted to get a good, well-rounded roster to have somebody for any race we’re starting,” Teutenberg said. “We have a couple of good road captains, some people who haven’t reached their potential yet, and some people who have done big stuff in the sport.”

The team will be without Deignan for the early classics. Deignan gave birth to her first child in September, and Teutenberg said that a return by the early season is simply too soon.

“We haven’t pinpointed a time when she’ll be back yet but we plan to hit the classics circuit without her,” Teutenberg said. “You never say never. If we get a call from her saying she thinks she’s ready you never know.”

The absence of Deignan places the team’s goals on its classics specialists, namely Van Dijk and Lepisto. Van Dijk is the defending champion at Dwars Door Vlaanderen, and in 2017 played an integral role in Coryn Rivera’s victory at the Tour of Flanders. Lepisto is the 2017 champion of Gent-Wevelgem.

Another rider who could star at the races is Italian newcomer Letizia Paternoster. Just 19, Paternoster owns the team’s sole victory, thus far, of 2019, which she took at the opening stage of the Tour Down Under.

“Some riders made really good jumps in form,” Teutenberg said. “We need to build on that.”

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