Australian Amanda Spratt (Orica-Scott) is on the verge of a general classification victory at the Santos Women's Tour. The stage 1 winner heads into the final stage of the four-day tour with a 19-second buffer over Janneke Ensing (Alé Cipollini) and 50 seconds over stage 2 winner Kirsten Wild (Cylance)
Tuesday's stage 4 is an hour-long criterium (plus two laps) in Adelaide's Victoria Park. The 1.2km circuit is fast and flat, making a bunch sprint the likely outcome, but the oval lap is exposed to the wind and could offer the right breakaway a chance for survival.
"It's a really great criterium circuit," Spratt said in a post-podium interview. "We always get good crowds there. It offers plenty of sprint primes, so the tour is not over yet."
With four sprint primes and bonus seconds on the final sprint, Ensing could theoretically scoop up enough points to leapfrog Spratt to the top of the leader's board, but it's hard to imagine a scenario in which that would happen, especially with how calculated, cleverly and controlled Orica-Scott has been this summer.
Should Spratt win, it will be her first general classification victory since the 2011 Tour de Feminin – O Cenu Ceského Švycarska in the Czech Republic.
"Six years ago, that was the last one," said Spratt. "It's been awhile between drinks."
For Spratt, this is new territory. For her team, it is a familiar position. The Australian-registered Orica outfit has won every edition of the Santos Women's Tour – first with Italian Valentina Scandolara in 2015, then with Australian road and time trial champion Katrin Garfoot in 2016.
Orica-Scott made no secret about its ambitions to three-peat. Spratt acknowledges that making it to the finale was the biggest challenge, but never one to count her chickens before they hatch, she is fully focused on shouldering the burden of her team’s objectives on the last day of the race.
"It's not celebratory yet," Spratt said. "There's still another day, another hour, but this was the big one to get through. We're definitely happy to have kept the jersey now and very hopeful we can keep it tomorrow."