Individual time trial world champion Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) has been crowned the Australian cyclist of the year, after being awarded the Oppy Medal in a ceremony in Melbourne on Friday. Amanda Spratt was awarded the female cyclist of the year prize after winning the Santos Women’s Tour for a second consecutive year and finishing third overall in the Giro Rosa.
“It’s a massive honour to be able to win this award this year, it’s been a big year but this tops it off,” Dennis said.
It is the second time that Dennis has received the Oppy Medal, named after pioneering Australian rider Hubert Opperman, after being named cyclist of the year in 2015.
Dennis has had a strong 2018 campaign where he won almost all of the individual time trials that he contested. He started the year by taking his third consecutive national time trial title, beating Luke Durbridge and Richie Porte by over a minute.
He went on to take the time trials at the Abu Dhabi Tour and Tirreno-Adriatico. Tom Dumoulin beat him by two seconds in the Giro d’Italia’s opening stage but he got revenge when he won the second, longer time trial stage.
Dennis was back to winning ways in the Vuelta a Espana’s stage 1 time trial and then backed that up by smashing the rest of the field by 50 seconds in the stage 16 effort. He left the Vuelta after that as he prepared for his biggest test of the year, the World Championships.
Dennis routed the competition in Innsbruck, defeating nearest rival Dumoulin by 1:21. He had also taken bronze with BMC Racing in the team time trial a few days earlier.
He will ride for Bahrain-Merida and is expected to target the Tour de France.
Spratt impresses throughout 2018
Spratt took the honours in the women’s competition after her best season to date.
The 31-year-old Mitchelton-Scott rider kicked things off with the defence of her Santos Women’s Tour title. After heading to Europe, she took top 10 finishes at two of the three the opening WorldTour races of the year, Strade Bianche and Trofeo Alfredo Binda. The good form carried into April where she took podium places at Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, as well as finishing fifth at Fleche Wallonne.
Spratt claimed her first ever WorldTour win at the Emakumeen Bira after a daring lone break on the final stage secured her stage and overall success. She spent a stint in pink at the Giro Rosa, after winning a stage, and went on to take third overall with her teammate Annemiek van Vleuten winning the title.
Her season was crowned with a hard-fought silver medal in the road race at the World Championships. Her success along with that of the likes of Chloe Hosking saw Australia finish the year fourth in the world rankings.
“It feels great, 2018 was such a good year for me and it just feels nice to pick up that Elite Road Cyclist of the Year award amongst some pretty strong contenders,” said Spratt. “I think Australian women’s cycling is in such a strong position so I’m honoured to take the award.”