Amanda Spratt would not be surprised to see the Santos Women's Tour Down Under step up to the Women's WorldTour as early as 2021. The Mitchelton-Scott all-rounder is preparing to win a fourth-consecutive title at the event held from January 16-19 and told Cyclingnews that she is impressed by its level of professionalism.
"It surprises me that it's not WorldTour already," Spratt told Cyclingnews. "I thought that this was an event that would go WorldTour [sooner] but I also think it has taken it step-by-step. It's still a young event, four years now, so I think each year it grows."
Organisers of the Santos Women's Tour Down Under announced last October that it will be offering live streaming of the four-day race. Race director Kimberly Conte said that while she was thrilled that the race has been elevated to the new ProSeries status, the overall goal is to become part of the future Women's WorldTour.
"It's Pro Series this year and I wouldn't be surprise to see it WorldTour next year," Spratt said.
"They are smart about it and this year we will have live TV coverage for all the stages, which is something we haven't had before. That will be really good. If that goes well, I can see it stepping up to the WorldTour.
"Tour Down Under is such a professional race in the way it's run. They look out for the teams, the stages have dynamic courses, and it's exciting racing."
Katrin Garfoot won the inaugural Women's Tour Down Under in 2016 and Spratt has won the overall titles on the three subsequent editions.
The Women's Tour Down Under is just one event in a block of racing offered in Australia in January and February. The season started at the Bay Crits and then moved into the Australian National Championships where Spratt hopes to do well in the elite women's road race on Saturday. Then there is the Santos Women's Tour Down Under followed by the new Race Torquay (January 30), Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (February 2) and Herald Sun Tour (February 5-6).
Women's WorldTour set to kick off at Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race
The UCI announced last summer that the Women's WorldTour would, for the first time, kick off with the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on February 2 in Geelong. Like the Tour Down Under, Spratt said the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race is one of the most professional events she competes in all season. She hopes that in future the two races will draw in more top-tier European riders and teams.
"I think it's fantastic," she said. "Since the first year that the race started it's always been so well run and so professional. They always look after us so well. It's had live TV coverage every year. It's more professional than a lot of the one-day races that we have in Europe. I'm really happy and proud to see it go WorldTour status.
"I hope it will bring more teams down to race here. I think having Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans race held together is helping. Tour Down Under is also moving up in its status, too. Maybe because it's an Olympic year some riders and teams won't want to change around their schedules too much this year, but I think it will really grow a lot in future."
Spratt said that she is in good form for the Australian block of racing and expects to have some good performances in front of home crowds. But she noted that her main targets will be further into the season at the Ardennes Classics in April, Giro Rosa and Tokyo Olympic Games in July, and the UCI Road World Championships in September.
"I'll take the same approach as I have done in the last couple of years, so not in peak form, but in good shape," said Spratt. "I would love to win some of the Australian races.
"The Nationals road race is a big target and then the Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans race. I'll head straight to Europe after Cadel Evans race. I love racing in Australia in front of a home crowd and I'm always motivated and excited to race here."
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.