Tiffany Cromwell was the High5 Australian Women?s Development team rider on in the Bira prologue, slotting into 14th place on the opening stage. Cromwell finished 13 seconds off the winning time set by Lotta Lepist? (Cerv?lo-Bigla).
Emakumeen Euskal Bira opened on Wednesday evening with a 3.3-kilometre prologue. The women?s peloton will spend the next four days in the Basque hills, but the opening stage was a relatively flat all-out effort in an industrial area of Iurreta. Tiffany Cromwell was the best-placed rider from the High5 Australian Women?s Development team, slotting into 14th place on the stage. Cromwell finished 13 seconds off the winning time set by Lotta Lepist? (Cerv?lo-Bigla).
Amanda Spratt, who like Cromwell is on loan from her trade team chasing personal results and serving as a team leader, managed 18th place at 17-seconds. Jenelle Crooks posted the strongest ride amongst the four development riders in 38th place at 24 seconds. Next come Amy Gillett scholarship holder Louisa Lobigs at at 32 seconds, Shannon Malseed at 33 seconds and Jessica Allen at 46 seconds.
?After a good showing in the one day race yesterday, it was a more sobering result today,? admitted Australian national coach Martin Barras, who is acting as sport director for the High5 Development Team over the next five days. ?We start the tour with small time deficits. Whilst it?s not ideal, in a race as hilly as this tour, it will ultimately play an insignificant role for us later on.?
Barras was quick to note the silver lining he takes with him from Wednesday?s race.
?Our results today give us license to be aggressive tomorrow,? said Barras. ?And opportunities to race aggressively are key for any development team.?
Thursday?s road stage is short ? measuring only 76.6 kilometres ? with two categorised climbs in the second half of the race. The third category Untzilla and second category Arlaban will likely prove decisive for the stage and could be a factor in the the general classification battle.
?Staring tomorrow, we will see a nice balance between difficult climbs and transition phases within the race,? said Barras. ?We look forward to Spratty and Jenelle giving us a presence uphill. Tiff and Louise will be our roaming warriors. We have plenty of options to mix it up, challenges ourselves and have fun!?