• Amanda Spratt took the stage and the race lead with a powerful attack on the final climb of Stage 6 at the Giro Rosa. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Amanda Spratt is quietly confident going into the world championships with the rare feeling of being one of the riders favoured to win the rainbow jersey.
By
Cycling Central

29 Sep 2018 - 11:51 AM  UPDATED 29 Sep 2018 - 11:55 AM

Australian climber Amanda Spratt is coming off a breakout year where she has hit almost all her preseason targets. Only one remains, the world championships, raced Saturday evening (AEST) in Innsbruck.

"It's a great opportunity for me this year," she said in an interview with Cyclingnews. "I haven't gone into any other world championships feeling excited about having a possibility of winning.

"It's a course that suits me. I've proven that I can climb with the best and it's a great opportunity, and I'd love to win the jersey this year."

Strong support surrounding Spratt heading into World Champs
Amanda Spratt heads into a hilly world championships in Innsbruck with the climbing ability to win the race and a strong squad to help her do so. No one on the Australian squad is underestimating the task, but there's an optimism that Spratt has a real shot at becoming Australia's first female to win the elite womens road race at the world championships.
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Spratt's season has been superb, with the lightweight climber taking stage race wins at the Tour Down Under, Emakumeen Bira, as well as wearing the leader's jersey at the mountainous Giro Rosa. 

Her performance at the one-day races was nearly as good, with attacking showings in the Ardennes classics, including a bold move in Liege-Bastogne-Liege that nearly saw Spratt grab a victory.

"I realise after the season I've had that I'm one of the favourites", said the 31-year-old, "and it's not a position that I've ever been in, but this season has been incredible for me, and I've taken a huge step up." 

Her position as one of the favourites could get to other riders, but Spratt is looking forward to taking up the position of leadership in the world championships.

"My main emotion at the moment is excitement," said Spratt. "I'm relaxed, and I don't feel a lot of pressure because I think that there are other women in the race that have more pressure on their shoulders than me.

The race begins in the town of Kufstein before heading through rolling terrain towards the formidable Gnadenwald climb. It then hits the race circuit with the women set to do three ascents of the Igls climb before a finale into Innsbruck. Spratt has had the benefit of training camps and reconnaissance rides to get her in optimum shape for the race. 

"We knew the course demands and that we have to race the final circuit three times," said Spratt in the interview with Cyclingnews. "It's (the Igls climb is) about a 20-minute climb, and so I've done a lot of efforts that were tailored toward that effort. I'm a dynamic climber and I like the change of pace.

"I came to Innsbruck in October by myself, booked it all, and rode the course. I've known the course for a year and what I need to do to be good, and that has helped me with my whole focus. My biggest goal coming into this season was the Ardennes Classics, Giro Rosa and the World Championships."

Spratt has a strong support squad with Shara Gillow, Lucy Kennedy and Grace Brown expected to go deep into the race, with Sarah Roy and Tiffany Cromwell experienced and adept riders who will be useful in the early stages. 

The Dutch shape as the team to beat, with Annemiek van Vleuten and Anna van der Breggen the dominant climbers over the past few seasons, but it would be far from an upset to see Spratt atop the podium come the end of the race.

The womens world championships road race will be broadcast on SBS Viceland from Saturday 10:55pm AEST, with the full race streaming from 8:00 pm AEST on Cycling Central and via the SBS OnDemand App.