Mitchelton-Scott announced Wednesday that they have signed Ane Santesteban as a key support rider for Amanda Spratt in the 2021 season. After racing for two years with Ceratizit-WNT, the Spanish climber will now focus on supporting Spratt during next season’s Ardennes Classics and the Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile.
“I am super happy to join the team because we do a lot of races together, I am always looking and it looks like a really good group. All of the girls and also the staff are like a family altogether, and when I spoke with the team it was a super nice conversation so I was really happy to join the team," Santesteban said.
“Honestly, another reason I am happy to be in the team is because of Amanda Spratt. She is a super good rider, in the Worlds recently she was always with a medal and also in the Giro d’Italia she was really strong so I am happy to ride with her as a climber and also with the other girls. They really work as a team, I would like to learn from everybody and give all I have to work well with them."
Santesteban is the first signing announcement for the team after they confirmed world champion Annemiek van Vleuten would be leaving for Movistar next season.
Mitchelton-Scott have named Spratt, who has been with the team since their inaugural season in 2012, as the sole leader of the outfit for next year.
Spratt is a versatile rider with strong performances in the Spring Classics and at the Giro Rosa, where she has finished in the top five in three editions, stepping onto the podium in third place in both 2018 and 2019 while supporting van Vleuten to overall victories. The Australian claimed her only stage win two seasons ago. She was forced to abandon the race this year after a stage 7 crash where she sustained a shoulder injury and a concussion. Van Vleuten also abandoned due to a fractured wrist.
Santesteban is a strong climber and a GC contender, who has placed inside the top 10 at the Giro Rosa twice, including seventh overall this year, and she has placed inside the top 10 at the former Emakumeen Bira.
“In the last years I have really improved as a rider and as a person, and I would like to continue with this improvement. I also just want to be happy in the team. I am a really positive person and I want to give this for the spirit of the group," Santesteban said.
Director Martin Vestby said that the team is aiming to rebuild a roster to contest the overall title at the Giro Rosa, Spring Classics and other mountainous races in 2021.
“We are aiming to really build a good climbing group for the Giro d’Italia, the Ardennes and those hilly races; and alongside Spratty, Lucy (Kennedy) and Georgia Williams, Santesteban is the perfect addition," he said.
“She really understands her role as support for Spratty, but she also just finished seventh overall at the Giro and is capable for going for her own results too.
“She hasn’t won many races, but she is consistent in hilly races, has produced good results and is always up there," said Vestby. "She has the experience, but we think the change of environment and our support structure will really help her take the next step and we will see her reach her peak in the coming years. She will really strengthen that climber’s group so we can play more cards.”