Spratt claims third Australian Championship in aggressive style

Sun 12 Jan 2020

Two-time world championship medallist Amanda Spratt has claimed her third Australian title in emphatic style in Ballarat today.

The 32-year-old went into the race as the sole leader for Mitchelton-SCOTT and her teammates delivered the aggressive race plan to perfection. 

Having completed the work for Spratt, Grace Brown finished off the day with the bronze medal, with Justine Barrow finishing between the pair for silver. 

Going early:
With clear tactics at the start of the day, Mitchelton-SCOTT launched their race plan early and surprised much of the bunch.

After early work from Gracie Elvin, Brown moved to the front with Spratt on her wheel on the third time up the climb and they immediately shattered the bunch.  Barrow was the only rider able to react and the trio began to extend their advantage over the first chase group. 

The gap settled between two and three minutes as the trio shared the workload on different parts of the course. Behind, 2019 Jayco Herald Sun Tour champion Lucy Kennedy covered the moves and it eventually extended further.

Finishing it off:
Having done a lion’s share of work across the course, Brown was unable to follow the attacks of Spratt and Barrow on the penultimate lap but continued to chase hard in case of hesitation ahead. 

Despite backing herself in the sprint, Spratt tried to drop her rival on the final two climbs, but Barrow held strong to her wheel.

In the two-up sprint, it was Spratt who had the legs to finish off, launching from behind for another strong victory and season in the coveted green and gold jersey. 

Amanda Spratt:
“It’s just as special, if not more special (the third time around). I owe my team this one, they rode incredibly well, you saw how much work Grace Brown did in that break.” 

“It’s unusual for us, but I did come in here as the sole leader. That comes with a lot of pressure but I’m just so grateful to the team for giving me the opportunity and that I could pull it off for them.

“Grace attacked on that climb, that was the plan to open the race up really early because we didn’t think anyone would expect that; normally there’s an early break. She was so strong and it was just me that could follow before Justine came across, she had an incredible ride too. 

“After that, we knew we had a really good group and we just had to keep going.

“I felt confident if it came down to a sprint. Of course I tried on the climb as well but I was very very impressed with Justine."  

Grace Brown:
“It was our plan to hit it pretty hard on that third lap. Originally we were just expecting a split in the bunch, but Spratty was on my wheel and she said ‘this is good Grace, it’s just you and I’. Then Justine bridged across and we were in a really good position. 

“I worked pretty hard in that group to keep extending the lead and Spratty did the job thankfully. 

“I did have that an image of Michael Freiberg in my head. I kept pushing after those last two climbs, but by the time I got to the one-kilometre to go banner, I knew I was too far behind.”

Martin Vestby:
“We wanted a hard race and we wanted to put pressure on early. We tried to surprise at least some riders and that worked out well.

“We might have expected Lucy at the front, but Grace was there and she had a great day and did most of the work to get the gap we needed and Spratty pulled it off. 

“It’s actually a hard course to organise a chase. We saw that last year as well, and with two strong riders at the front there, there’s not a lot of places to make up any time.

“When it got to 45seconds it was at point of no return and we just needed to go for it. When they started to panic at the back, it isn’t organised and for us that was perfect.”

Australian Championships – Road Race Results:
1. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 2:57:59
2. Justine Barrow +0:01
3. Grace Brown (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:11

Photo courtesy of Hikari Media.