Defending champion Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) took the opportunity to move into the lead of the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under rather than having the pressure to do it in the queen stage to Stirling.
The Australian national champion outsprinted her two breakaway companions, Germany’s Liane Lippert (Team Sunweb) and American national champion Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo), in Birdwood.
“We had a really strong team today,” Spratt noted. “The girls gave me an excellent lead out going into the final climb. We made the race really hard. We had three out of five riders in the front group, just trying to get rid of the others. On paper, Ruth [Winder] and Liane [Lippert] were faster than me but it was such a hard race and I know I have a good sprint in such a situation.”
93 riders took the start of Novatech Stage 2 at 10:13 as Belgium’s Justine Vromanne, the youngest rider in the race at the age of 18, was the only non-starter in Murray Bridge. Crosswinds gave an opportunity to Mitchelton-SCOTT to try and split the peloton. A record speed of 75km/h was recorded around kilometre 20 where there were three different groups on the road.
A regrouping followed. Emily Herfoss (Roxsolt Attaquer) tried her luck solo before the first intermediate sprint that was won at kilometre 28.5 by Anastasiia Chursina (Alé BTC Ljubjlana) who overlapped the Herfoss while Leah Kirchmann and Liane Lippert, both from Team Sunweb, took the first two positions of the peloton behind Chursina.
Team Sunweb confirmed their intention to fight for every second available and it worked out on the first passage on the line in Birdwood with Leah Kirchmann winning the second Ziptrak Sprint before race leader Chloe Hosking (Rally Cycling) and runner up Lotta Henttala (Trek-Segafredo) at km 80.
Mitchelton-SCOTT put the hammer down as a team with 25 kilometres to go. Three of the team made the front group of five riders as Amanda Spratt, Lucy Kennedy and Grace Brown went up the road along with Lippert and Winder. Spratt started attacking within 15 kilometres to go and kept giving a hard time to her rivals.
The Australian champion didn’t manage to get rid of Winder and Lippert who took the category 1 Subaru Queen of the Mountain at Christmas Tree Ridge 11 kilometres before the end.
“I started my sprint too early,” Lippert admitted. “But still it was a good stage and I’m happy where I stand on GC. I knew that I could be good in this kind of climb. In explosive climbs, I can handle it at high speed. I don’t know if Amanda [Spratt] is beatable, but the Australian girls are in top shape. They just rode their nationals and they can handle the heat better than us. It’ll be hard but we have a very strong team and different cards to play. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow is a really tough stage around Stirling,” Spratt concluded. “I’m glad to have this win today but it’s definitely not over yet.”