Reigning Women’s Tour Down Under champion Amanda Spratt dominated the field during Stage 3 of the four stage race to take the win and, in all likelihood, secure back to back titles.
The toughest stage to date, riders covered more than 120km, much of it in strong winds and heavy rain. But that was comparatively easy compared to the penultimate climbs of the day, the QOM and the final 500m to the finish line – at a gradient that averaged 12%.
Despite the treacherous conditions Team New Zealand rider Linda Villumsen opened up a solo gap of more than 5 minutes – many thinking the move might stick.
At around the 40km to go mark Amanda Spratt decided the time was right to go – she attacked hard and, along with Cylance rider Lauren Stephens, bridged the gap. The pair caught the solo leader and kept going toward the final two climbs near the quaint finish town of Hahndorf.
‘I Knew The Climb Would Hurt Like Hell’
Crossing the line several bike lengths ahead of Stephens, Spratt collapsed into the arms of team support crew – the former national champion giving every bit of herself to the final brutal climb.
“Everyone was so focussed on the Mengler’s Hill stage and I thought ‘this is Stage 3 of the tour, it’s early in the season, it’s the longest stage as well and that’s a really brutal hilltop finish’,” said Spratt.
“I was feeling very strong but you can never underestimate Lauren Stephens, she is a strong rider,” she added.
“This was my biggest goal of January, the Tour Down Under. I came in December and looked at all of the courses so I really targeted this stage because I knew it suited me. I knew the finish climb would hurt like hell, but I was ready.”
Spratt Into Leader’s Jersey
Upon being awarded the leader’s Ochre Jersey Spratt expressed excitement and shock.
“I’m so grateful to the team for giving me the opportunity,” she said.
“It could have been any of the three of us that were up there on general classification so I am just so happy I could do it for the team.”
The 2018 Women’s Tour Down Under continues with Stage 4 on Sunday afternoon, a 46km criterium in Adelaide city starting at 5:20pm – see the map below.
Stage 3 Results
1. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 3:47:24
2. Lauren Stephens (Cyclance Pro Cycling) +0:07
3. Grace Brown (Holden Team Gusto Racing) +0:59
General Classification After Stage 3
1. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 9:39:52
2. Lauren Stephens (Cycling Pro Cycling) +0:29
3. Katrin Garfoot (UniSA) +1:31