Thu 11 Jan 2018

One day ahead of the 2018 Santos Women's Tour, defending champion Amanda Spratt joined the race's official press conference to preview the newly improved four-day race.

Here's the highlights:

What lessons can you take out of the national championships in Sunday, to apply to the race this week?

“I think at the Nationals we did everything that we could’ve done there. We didn’t walk away from the Nationals thinking ‘we did this huge mistake’ or ‘we could’ve done this better’.

"Shannon had a really fantastic race and she’s a very worthy winner and the same could be said for the podium.

"It’s more just the knowledge that we put all the processes in place that we wanted to for the Nationals and the plan and we just didn’t get that result on paper, that we wanted for sure. We definitely wanted to get that jersey and it didn’t happen, but we always take a lot of confidence. We know the shape is there and the form is good so we come here with a strong team of six riders.

"We didn’t loose sleep over the Nationals, we’ve moved on and we’re ready for this race now and we’re definitely looking for the strong performances in this stages and also in the overall.”




Do you embrace the pressure of being defending champion?

I don’t feel a lot of pressure on myself, maybe there is some, but I have a great team here and I think that the thing with our team is that we are Australians, it’s January, and we are in good shape I think compared to a lot of the European teams.

"Like Giorgia said they’re much earlier in their preparations. We do have a really strong team here and it’s not just me that could win the stages or the overall here and we have three or four in our team that could be in that position so I think that helps to take the pressure off a little bit and we’re going to go out there and enjoy it.”

This year the Tour has three decisive road stages. Do you expect the tactics and team dynamics to change? 

I think you’re right, it’s a very different race to what it was last year. This year, having three road stages is better as it raises the professionalism of the race as a whole, but I think, the first stage there is an high chance that it could be a bunch sprint.

"There’s probably only two opportunities for sprint teams here to come and get that win.”

“Certainly stages two and three are tough. We have two hilltop finishes in both of these stages; and the result on stage two could completely change again for stage three, as the last 10km of stage three can change the overall again.  

"What we saw last year was our result was set-up on stage one and there wasn’t enough time bonuses after that to get the time back on me.”

“I think it will be completely different this time. You could have the general classification set up to stage two and stage three so it's exciting, particularly in those last 10km, even four kilometres, you’ve got climbs, you’ve got a  technical finish and you’ve got that really steep hilltop finish. I can imagine that you could be going very well and then your legs just blow up on that final climb on stage three and then you can lose alot of time.”

 “It’s going to be really important to be saving energy when you can this week and having a good team around you and really just picking the moments.”

What do you think of stage three?

It’s going to be a tough stage, certainly the Tour is not going to be won until that stage is finished. For sure gaps can form all the way to the finish and I think it’s a brilliant course. We are really excited by it. Like you said it’s probably more a classics type in the final, but even the start with the possibility of crosswinds, I think it’s going to be a really exciting stage.”

After Sunday's national championships, do you see you main rivals coming for Australia or overseas? 


“I think in terms of the general classification contenders here, probably more the Australian riders, just being this time of the year we’re all in a great shape.”

“I know certainly that Shannon is in a good shape, we’ve seen that.” 

“The UniSA Team here have a really strong line-up, they could be the national team at the world championships pretty much, so they’re going to be really strong.”

“Probably more the GC riders will look more to the Australians. Certainly the sprint stages I think the European teams like Giorgia’s Cylance they are going to have a really strong focus, I imagine, on those stages or in breaaway opportunities, so I think it’s going to be probably a bigger focus probably on the Australians riders, but we never discount the Europeans either.”

“You always got to be aware and it’s not a sort of race where you can sit back and relax.”