• Amanda Spratt took the stage and the race lead with a powerful attack on the final climb of Stage 6. (Getty Images)
Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) emerged as the rider to beat in the Giro Rosa, taking out the Stage 6 mountain-top finish and donning the leader's jersey.
By
Cycling Central

6 DAYS AGO 

In the premier women's race of the 2018 season, it is now an Australian that currently occupies top billing. Amanda Spratt had previously had some superb form at the Ardennes Classics and in Australia this season, but her victory in Stage 6 of the Giro Rosa marks a new high in the career of the pint-sized climber.

“We couldn’t have asked for anything better from all the team today,' said Spratt, "they all rode so well to set up myself and Annemiek before the climb.

“It is a little bit surreal to be in the pink jersey, we wanted to see today if we had an opportunity to take time. It worked out well, there were quite a few attacks and it was hard and Annemiek really set me up for the attack when I went and it worked out perfectly.

It was a double success for the Australian team, with Spratt's teammate Annemiek van Vleuten taking second on the stage to complete a memorable 1-2 ahead of third-placed Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio.

“We actually came and rode this climb a couple of weeks ago and I think that really paid off," said Spratt. "We knew when was good to attack, we knew it would get steeper and we just had to stay patient until then. I went into the big ring because I knew it flatten off after and I am so happy to take the jersey."

Stage 6 was the first big test for the overall contenders for the Giro Rosa, with the 13 kilometre ascent at six per cent to Gerola Alta concluding the stage. 

There was no early breakaway in the race, with the top teams keen to keep the race together heading into the final climb.

After a fast pace with lead-out trains into the bottom of the final ascent, attacks began as soon as the road tilted up and the peloton was immediately split between the elite climbers and the rest.

With the pace high, the front group was whittled down to leave just 16 riders with seven kilometres remaining.

Van Vleuten attacked and kept driving for one kilometre which caused more riders to drop off the back leaving just Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla), Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), Mavi Garcia (Movistar) and Spratt at the front.

Spratt spotted a momentary lull in the pace with five kilometres to go and attacked from the back of the group, shooting past the other contenders and quickly building an advantage.

Spratt was able to extend her advantage all the way to the line, eventually winning the stage by 29 seconds to Annemiek van Vleuten, who jumped clear of the others in the final sprint to the line atop the climb.

The Australian now leads the race by 30 seconds over previous leader Ruth Winder (Team Sunweb), with van Vleuten a further 3 seconds back in third overall.

She becomes the third Australian to wear the pink jersey, with Vicki Whitelaw having won a stage and worn the jersey in 2008 and Shara Gillow doing the same in 2011.

An Australian is yet to win the prestigious womens event, with Kathy Watt and Liz Hepple both having finished second in the past.