Amanda Spratt secured the silver medal in the elite women's road race at the 2018 UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck on Saturday. The Australian favourite said she had no disappointments and that her performance felt like a victory given that she was up against the likes of newly crowned world champion Anna van der Breggen.
"I'm proud of this medal," Spratt told Cyclingnews after stepping off the podium. "I think Anna was on another level today and she came across so quickly after she attacked and I just tried to stay on her wheel. I couldn't stay with her, and so for me, it was about trying to stay away from the others and still be in the medals, so I'm proud of that."
Spratt came into the race as the leader of the Australian outfit with a team that included Tiffany Cromwell, Brodie Chapman, Grace Brown, Shara Gillow, Sarah Roy and Lucy Kennedy. She was one of the favourites to win the title given her success this year; winning Santos Women's Tour Down Under and Emakumeen Bira, along with a stage win at the Giro Rosa. In the spring, she was up against Van der Breggen in the Ardennes where she finished third at Amstel Gold, fifth at Flèche Wallonne and second at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
It was a long race at 156.2km that started with an 84km loop from Kufstein to Innsbruck and included a steep 5km climb Gnadenwald. They dropped down to the Innsbruck circuits for three laps at 23.8km, that also had a climb to Igls before descending to the finish line.
Spratt said that a crash into a grassy ditch on the first time up the circuit's climb didn't affect her race. On the second time up, she and a small group joined solo breakaway rider Coryn Rivera (USA). Ellen van Dijk was distanced from that move, and so her Dutch teammates were quick to respond from the reduced field behind.
"It was not the plan to be in the early breakaway," Spratt said. "The Dutch were launching some attacks, as were others, and I just found myself in a position where I was on Ellen van Dijk's wheel when she went across. I thought 'OK, I'll just go with this.'
"I didn't really push it because I knew that I was the protected Australian rider and I needed to get a results, so I was there, and I knew that the Dutch would attack up the next climb, so it was more about getting into that climb and then waiting for the move from behind."
Van der Breggen launched herself from the field and quickly made contact with Spratt's group. Spratt jumped on her wheel, and although she tried to hang on for as long as possible, she said her rival was too powerful.
"I knew that the Dutch would attack and I was waiting for that move," Spratt said. "Anna came across so quickly, and I tried to hold on to her wheel, and maybe I made a little mistake to try and hold her wheel."
With Van der Breggen soloed to her first world title, while Spratt race for 40km by herself to hold off the riders chasing from behind. She finished 3:42 behind Van der Breggen and just under two minutes ahead of bronze medallist Tatiana Guderzo from Italy.
"I was suffering so bad," Spratt said. "My legs were cramping, and I was trying to find food, anything to get to the finish line. The last couple of kilometres, Gene [Bates] came up and said that I still had a 1:30 and that I was still racing for the silver medal. I tried to soak it up a bit, and it's an incredible way to finish the season. Anna was honestly on another level, and I think I can be proud with the silver medal."