Spratt moves into the race lead after stage two victory at Emakumeen BiraThu 23 May 2019
Defending champion Amanda Spratt moved into the overall race lead after sprinting to victory on stage two at Emakumeen Bira to boost her title defence hopes in the Basque Country.
The triple Tour Down Under champion was looked after all day by WorldTour leader Annemiek van Vleuten and was delivered into the final kilometre in the perfect position for the uphill sprint to the line.
The win and time bonuses mean that Spratt enjoys a 12-second lead heading into the mountains for the final two stages as she looks to make it back-to-back victories after her 2018 triumph.
Up and Down Profile
Despite only having two category-three climbs in the opening half of the day, the up and down profile meant that there was little let up for the peloton over the 110km route from Adunda to Amasa.
The race passed over the first categorised climb with little activity amongst the bunch, but the steep slopes of the second climb up Alkiza saw a move containing Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner Van Vleuten go clear.
However, with several dangerous general classification contenders amongst the attackers, the peloton moved quickly to haul them back. It wasn’t long before another move went clear out of the reduced pack with Malgorzata Jasinska (Movistar Team) going solo, while the intermediate sprint launched a counter move behind.
Spratt was part of the five-rider move and she took two bonus seconds behind the solo leader, but again the pack swiftly halted their progress. Another lone attacker soon went away before Mitchelton-SCOTT moved to the head of the bunch with Durango-Durango winner Lucy Kennedy driving the pace.
The race was all back together heading into 30-kilometres to go and the pace slowed as the bunch approached the final intermediate sprint. It was Van Vleuten who crossed the line first to take the maximum three seconds as the front of the race split in two, with Spratt joining her teammate in the front group of 11.
But with a lack of cooperation amongst the 11 riders, the chasing group soon reeled them back in as the race reset once more with 10-kilometres remaining. Further attacks came and went but it all came down to a showdown on the final ramp to the line with Spratt timing her kick perfectly to take the stage and the overall lead.
“I’m so, so happy today, the team were absolutely amazing! We came to the Basque Country earlier and we knew the stages and the girls said they really wanted to back me today and they did an amazing job, there was no way I couldn’t win after the work that they did.”
“Annemiek and I have a really great relationship, we have so much respect for each other and I know I’ve worked many times for her to get the victory and it’s really nice that she’s more than happy to work for me here. It’s amazing to have the world number one working for me.”
“I feel confident for what’s to come, so far my legs have been really good and like I said, we’ve seen the courses for tomorrow and the next day, we know they’re both really, really hard, but again we have really good options in our team. Annemiek is obviously racing really well and also Lucy Kennedy, we think there could be big time splits so it’s good that we have options.”
Martin Vestby (Sports Director):
“It was quite a tricky, hard stage today, a lot harder than on paper, but we knew that after the recon we did last week, so we knew what was coming. It was a hard stage to control and it cost us a lot of energy from the whole team, so it’s nice when Spratty can pull off the win at the end.”
“Annemiek is also still up there for the general classification too, so it’s good to have options but at the moment Spratty looks to be going really well, so it’s looking good.”
“Tomorrow’s stage is all flat and pretty easy until the two climbs at the end and up to the finish, but we have riders that suit this type of course and I think tomorrow might be easier to control than today.”
Emakumeen Bira Stage Two Results:
1. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 2:29:24
2. Soraya Paladin (Alé Cipollini) ST
3. Mavi Garcia (Movistar Team) ST
Emakumeen Bira General Classification after Stage Two:
1. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 5:32:26
2. Soraya Paladin (Alé Cipollini) +0:12
3. Mavi Garcia (Movistar Team) +0:12
Photo courtesy Getty Images.