Amanda Spratt’s World Championship Race Report
Innsbruck. A city name for some, but for me this name has been front and centre of my mind for a good 12 months. In fact, ever since I made the solo trip to this beautiful city in Austria to ride the courses for the 2018 World Championships I’ve known that this is a place that could become so much more than an adventure location for me.
Many will know that my 2018 season was focused on three main goals: the Ardennes, the Giro and the World Championships. With the first two goals ticked off, I went into the World Championships with the confidence that a great result was possible. I honestly believed that becoming the World Champion was possible and that is what I aimed for.
Swapping my trade colours for the colours of Australia was an absolute honour. It always is. Standing on the start line alongside six other ladies who were fully committed to supporting me to achieve this goal was a privilege. A lot of people talked about me as a favourite and although I felt a little bit of pressure I also felt a sense of calm and confidence knowing that I had a great season behind me and the legs to do the job. 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.
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.
2.5 laps to go. The Dutch are attacking. I start to follow moves but at the same time the voice in my head tells me to save my energy. To my right I see Ellen Van Dijk going. Elena Pirrone is there too. Dutch and Italian – a lethal combination to let get too far away. I decide to follow, knowing that it was better to be there than to chase later. As I look around I see daylight between our small group and what is left of the bunch. I’m pleasantly surprised.
Our group of three soon swells to six as the earlier escapees are caught. As we start the long climb again the gap is over a minute to the bunch behind. I have a lead but I stay focused on my job. I expect the Dutch to attack hard from behind on this lap. Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek are both in amazing form and I know they will see it as too risky to wait until one lap to go.
Halfway up the climb I look around and see an orange helmet not far behind. I look again. It’s Anna. Ok, this is it. 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. 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. Go, I tell me legs, this what you’ve trained for. 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. 40km to go.
My legs are screaming. The descent is fast but doesn’t offer much recovery. The city streets feel slow. It seems like there is headwind everywhere I turn and the paved streets feel like they slow me down with every pedal stroke. I cross the line to get the bell – one lap to go. As the gap to Anna increases I realise that I have to accept that she is having an incredible ride. She was honestly on another level on Saturday and crossed the finish line a very worthy World Champion.
As I start the final climb I get out of the seat. My legs start to cramp. I sit back down and just tell myself it doesn’t matter, just ride through it… it’s the World Championships! Gene drives up in the car beside me giving me every bit of encouragement he can muster. I don’t look at him, I’m only focused on the road ahead but I take in every word he says and know I just have to keep pushing hard to the top.
I get there but I know the job isn’t done. As I start descending I never stop pushing. I use every bit of energy I have left to get to that finish. Crossing the line is something I will never forget. 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. Not just this, but 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. Every day I feel lucky to have so many amazing people in my corner. At the moment I think it’s all still sinking in… it will take some time.
Underneath it all though I still have the overwhelming feeling that this party is just getting started… let’s get ready to rumble in 2019.
Always a team player, it is common to see Amanda sacrificing herself for her teammates.
The 2012 and 2016 Australian road race champion is known for her big heart and big engine. Amanda recorded her first European victory at the Giro del Trentino Alto Adige – Sudtirol in 2015 and has taken a big step up as a leader in the outfit following the retirement on Loes Gunnewijk.
Amanda won the silver medal at the 2018 UCI Road World Championships.