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Amanda Spratt: Australia’s World Championship team strongest in years

LANDGRAAF NETHERLANDS SEPTEMBER 02 Amanda Spratt of Australia and Team BikeExchange Jayco crosses the finish line during the 25th Simac Ladies Tour 2022 Stage 4 a 1352km stage from Landgraaf to Landgraaf SLT2022 UCIWWT on September 02 2022 in Landgraaf Netherlands Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images
Amanda Spratt (BikeExchange-Jayco) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Australia is heading into its home UCI Road World Championships with the strongest women's team in years according to two time podium placer at the event, Amanda Spratt, who has pointed to the depth of its roster and ability to adapt to varied race scenarios.

The New South Wales local will be lining up in the 164km elite/U23 women's road race on Saturday September 23 to tackle a course that sweeps down the coast line from Helensburgh, through the Mount Keira circuit once and then into six laps of a corner heavy city circuit that includes a climb of Mount Pleasant. The experienced Worlds campaigner will be racing among a team that includes Georgia Baker, Brodie Chapman, Sarah Roy, Josie Talbot, Alex Manly and Grace Brown. 

"When I look at our team, I think overall it is probably one of the strongest we've had in a number of years, in terms of the depth that we have and the riders that can get deep into the race,” Spratt told Cyclingnews before late last week making the trip to Australia for a final pre-race training block. “That will be our aim. And then I think we'll be able to play it pretty well there on the final circuits.”

“I think Grace and Alex will be the riders we really want to protect the most and they deserve that position. They have both had a fantastic season and they can both win or podium in the race in different ways, which is exciting." 

Brown has a knack of picking the moment to attack, and then using her time trial skills to stay out the front, while Manly can sprint but also has the ability to hold firm in the shorter climbs – a valuable skill on a course with 2433m of elevation gain. Spratt, who is not front and centre this year as she often has been in recent editions, delivers the climbing strength although would no doubt prefer longer ascents.

 The 34-year-old for many years was the obvious choice for Australian team leadership, taking second in the World Championships road race in 2018 and third in 2019. Recent seasons, however, haven’t been kind with her form hit by Iliac artery endofibrosis and the subsequent surgery in October to address it. Now Spratt is showing promising signs that she is bouncing back toward the top of her game ahead of this rare Road World Championships in front of a home.

"It has been a quite a long road to recovery,” said Spratt, adding that the breakthrough point really came for her mid-year.

“Eight months post-surgery was right before the Giro [d’Italia Donne], at the end of my altitude block and I did my all time best ever ten minute power just before the Giro. That's the point where I knew and could say, 'OK, everything is going really well'.

“At that point it made it feel worth it.”

Spratt went to the ten-stage race in Italy with “fantastic form” and the intention of making the most of it on two crucial stages. 

“My biggest strength for a stage is where it just goes up and down, up and down, with long climbs and no recovery, so that's really what we had in the stage 8 and 9 of the Giro,” Spratt said. “But I got COVID on stage 7 and was out.”

Another chance then loomed at the Tour de France Femmes but a crash on stage two ended that opportunity before the climbing stages arrived as well.

“It was a rough July and just when I thought my form was actually becoming really good again,” said Spratt.

Spratt may have not had much opportunity to take advantage of her post-surgery rebuild, but at her most recent race, the Simac Ladies Tour, the progress was made clear with a third on the stage 5 time trial. The rider, too, is embracing the positives of her July of COVID and crashes as she looks ahead to her second home Road World Championships, after racing as a first year elite in Geelong in 2010.

“Sometimes you get to this point of the season and it is a bit of a battle of not pushing it too far,” said Spratt. “I'm going into the end of the season a bit fresher, which is pleasing. I think my form will come up and I really want to be able to use that for the team."

The Australian team and BikeExchange-Jayco have been a constant for Spratt since she started her career but – while the national team is likely to remain so – her trade team is set for a change next season. The rider has signed with Trek-Segafredo, but is hopeful she’ll be able to make the most of her last block of racing with her long term squad before heading into a strong first season with her new one.  

“I feel like I'm definitely coming up now," said Spratt of her form. "if it doesn't happen in this season then I really think there are so many positive signs for next season, so I'm looking both short term and long term with excitement." 

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Production editor

Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and as a correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.