There is no doubt our defending champion is looking to go back-to-back and her team possess the firepower to help make it happen.
Lucy Kennedy has been a late bloomer for Mitchelton-SCOTT (MTS) but now that she knows the taste and hard work of victory it will be tough to stop her gaining the title again.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling. It will be the first UCI race that I am returning as the defending champion, so that is going to be a new experience.”
And MTS are delivering a huge springboard into their Lexus of Blackburn Women’s Herald Sun Tour campaign with early victories to help lay a platform across the summer of cycling, as Kennedy explained.
“The year has started perfectly really. Our first two races, we rode perfect team races and we came away with the national championship title and a stage at the Tour Down Under so there’s a really good vibe in the team. I feel like we’re really gelling well together, especially as it’s so early in the season, but I think it’s a good sign for the races to come in Australia and the remainder of the season.”
The team around the 31 year old former traithlete is ready to roll, knowing the expectation that comes with having home grown Australian DNA.
“Grace Brown is an absolutely machine. We’ve seen recently how strong Grace is, she is a huge engine and really versatile as well. Georgia Williams is a wheel I really trust, I have had some good races with her including San Sebastian last year. Gracie Elvin is in really good for at the moment, it’s exciting and she will also be really useful for the descent down Falls Creek. Jess Allen is the ultimate teammate and is always willing to sacrifice herself for the team. Jess Roberts is our new teammate and is a little bit of the unknown for us as the moment but we know she is fast and we’re looking forward to racing with her soon.”
The team expects to visit its sponsors home base at Nagambie before taking on the two-day event. For Kennedy, A talented climber and time trialist, there is something in each stage that makes it special
“The format of the Tour has been similar the last few years – there’s been the two stages but they are always two completely different stages where the GC has always been decided one of the two days. “
We’re starting with the sprint stage so for me it’s about staying safe and conserving energy, but we’ve also got a couple of fast girls in our team with Gracie Elvin who has been sprinting well and Jess Roberts who will come in for one of her first races with the team.”
Then the second stage is really interesting. We start with a 30km descent, basically go down the hill, do a loop and then back up the climb. It’s a pretty unusual stage. I‘ve ridden the climb, it’s not a super hard climb but it’s obviously really long and there’s going to be huge time gaps.
And there is an extra twist to 2020, as the Olympiad is completed, with Tokyo looming on the horizon and a chance to wear the green and gold
Tokyo is a huge aim for me like a lot of people. It’s really cut throat for selection because there’s only four spots up for grabs. It’s the number one target of my season, but at the same time you have to be open to the idea that it might not happen. Without it the season is still a complete season and there are other goals, so it’s not everything but obviously it only comes around every four years and I want to be there, it’s been a childhood dream
But her first aim is to take the top step on the podium on February 6 at the top of Falls Creek, and defend her title amongst an elite field.