Spratt narrowly misses out on the title on the final stage of Emakumeen BiraSat 25 May 2019
It was heartbreak for defending champion Amanda Spratt as she narrowly lost the leader’s jersey on the final stage of the Emakumeen Bira.
The Australian went into stage four with a five second advantage on the general classification, but she couldn’t haul back a late attack from Elisa Longo-Borghini (Trek-Sedafredo) who took the stage and overall by two seconds.
It was a cagey start to the race as several attempts to break clear were thwarted by the bunch who were looking to contest the first of the intermediate sprints. However, two riders did manage to slip down the road through the sprint heading into the first climb of the day.
The duo made it over the top of the first climb and forged on down the descent to open up a gap of over one minute on the tricky wet roads. Onto the second climb of the day and their advantage stretched to over two minutes with three riders launching a counter move behind.
The attackers merged after the summit to form a break of five, but the pace was being upped behind with Mitchelton-SCOTT leading the chase as they looked after race leader Spratt. The gap to the five leaders soon began to fall and their time out front was over as the race crested the penultimate peak.
As the race came back together a counter attack soon followed with eight riders going clear on the descent including Durango-Durango winner Lucy Kennedy. The advantage of the escapees went out to 50-seconds with Kennedy opting to drop back to help her teammates ahead of the final climb.
The race burst into life on the slopes of the category-one ascent, with Spratt and fellow general classification contenders Mavi García (Team Movistar), Soraya Paladin (Alé Cipollini) and Longo-Borghini jumping across to the remains of the break. Longo-Borghini then went solo with Spratt initially following on the descent before a reinforced chase group formed behind.
It was then a case of whether or not the chasing group could reel in the Italian before the line, with bonus seconds available at the finish it was still all to play for. As Longo-Borghini entered the finishing straight the chasers had her in their sight, but it was too late as she took the win, with Spratt missing out on crucial bonus seconds in the sprint behind in fifth.
"Of course, there’s disappointment, I really wanted to come here and win. It didn’t happen, but honestly, I finished the race absolutely empty, there’s nothing more I could have given."
"I’m really proud of my team, they were amazing out there, they controlled it the whole way and always believed in me, all of the girls died out there for me today, I’m just sad that I couldn’t pull it off for them."
"We had some great results here and second on GC in a WorldTour race is something to be proud of. Elisa Longo-Borghini had a fantastic ride today and kudos to her, she really deserved that win. But I think we can leave he really proud of the team effort and look forward to the next races now."
Emakumeen Bira Stage Four Results:
1. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) 4:11:02
3. Soraya Paladin (Alé Cipollini) +0:04
5. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
Emakumeen Bira General Classification:
1. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) 12:21:41
2. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:02
3. Soraya Paladin (Alé Cipollini) +0:07
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.