Australia's Amanda Spratt has admitted that new elite women's road race world champion Anna van der Breggen was "on another level" at the UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria.
Writing on the L'Etape Australia website, Spratt recounted her ride to the silver medal in the event over the weekend in great detail, and it's clear that taking the runner's-up spot means almost as much to her as if she'd won.
"So much work by so many people has gone into this silver medal and it really feels like this year is the year it's finally all come together," she wrote.
Spratt spent the last 40 kilometres of the 156.2km race alone, 'in time trial mode', in pursuit of Van der Breggen, with Italy's Tatiana Guderzo breathing down her neck in the bronze-medal position.
She finished the race 3:42 behind the winner, with Guderzo coming home 1:44 behind her.
"In the final hard training days before the Worlds, I was producing power I could only have dreamed of a year ago, so I knew I had prepared in the best way possible. My coach, Gene Bates, reminded me of this, and it gave me the confidence I needed to know just how far I could push myself," said Spratt.
"My Aussie teammates did an amazing job. Watch the coverage and you'll see for yourself just how well they protected me and guided me through the first 100km, so that I was ready to take my opportunity in the finale."
Van der Breggen's devastating attack with 40km to go initially saw Spratt attempt to follow the Dutchwoman.
"As she accelerates past on a steeper part of the climb I quickly get on her wheel and know I have to suffer like crazy until the top," Spratt recounted, replaying the day's action. "With several steep ramps up to the top, I just count them down one by one. As I finish my turn at the front, I swing over and immediately I see her accelerate.
"I try to follow, but I can't get there. As I pass the feed-zone at the top, the gap is growing and the instructions from my national coach, Brad McGee, are clear: get into TT mode."
Having safely finished in second place, the feelings of relief were, Spratt said, overwhelming.
"The emotion poured out of me. I cried in the team meeting after the race, too, as I thanked each of my teammates and my team for the support they gave me for this goal.
"My parents, my partner, my coach, my friends… So many of the most important people in my life were there in Innsbruck, too. Every day I feel lucky to have so many amazing people in my corner."