10-20 January 2019

Spratt's December recon pays dividends
14 Jan 18

By Matthew Agius

Amanda Spratt celebrates her Stage 3 win with a big thumbs-up

Above: Amanda Spratt celebrates her Stage 3 win in Hahndorf. [Pic: Tour Down Under / Kevin Anderson]

BARRING any nasty surprises, Amanda Spratt should prevail on the streets on Adelaide on Sunday afternoon and claim back-to-back Santos Women’s Tour Down Under titles.

Riding into the city today wearing Ochre, the Mitchelton-SCOTT team leader owns a 29-second advantage over nearest rival Lauren Stephens (Cylance).

Spratt and Stephens surged to the top of the general classification after hunting down lone break rider Linda Villumsen (VirtuCycling) in Saturday’s third stage from The Bend Motorsport Park to Hahndorf.

In Hahndorf, the pair were confronted by the challenge of two major climbs – the first being the Subaru Queen of the Mountain test at Comet Mine (a 12.2% gradient, Category 1 climb), the second being a hilltop finish on Von Doussa Road – a gradient of about 9%.

But a reconnaissance of the stage in December meant Spratt was primed to attack the stage and clinch victory and the overall lead.

"It's a race I've targeted for a while and I was really confident with this stage that I knew the roads and once I got away I was confident I could stay away," said Spratt.

"Everyone was so focussed on the Mengler's Hill stage (stage 2) and I thought, ‘This is Stage 3 of the tour, it's early in the season, it's the longest stage as well and that's a really brutal hilltop finish.’

Spratt now leads three classifications – Santos general classification, southaustralia.com sprint and Subaru Queen of the Mountain – and is in the box seat to claim victory on the flat of the Adelaide east end today.

To snatch victory, Stephens would need to earn time bonuses available at four primes and win with enough road between her and Spratt to leapfrog the Australian at the top the order.

And the peloton will be recovering from the most brutal stage in the race’s short history – with yesterday’s 121km stage from Tailem Bend through the Bremer Valley and up to the Adelaide Hills beset by early headwinds and crosswinds, as well as the climbs at Hahndorf.

“It's the kind of stage that wears away at the legs, wears away at the legs and there were crosswinds at the start as well which meant already had people tired," Spratt said.
 
Sunday’s final stage will take the peloton from the start/finish line on Wakefield Road through the northern section of the Adelaide parklands circuit via Hutt Street, Bartels Road and Dequetteville Terrace, commencing at 5:20pm.

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