• Chloe Hosking wins the final stage of the Santos Women's Tour Down Under. (Getty)Source: Getty
A jubilant Chloe Hosking was the victor on the final stage of the Santos Women's Tour Down Under while Amanda Spratt finished safely to win defend her title.
By
Jamie Finch-Penninger

Source:
Cycling Central
13 Jan 2019 - 9:06 PM  UPDATED 14 Jan 2019 - 9:42 AM

Hosking (Ale-Cipollini) burst through in the final metres between Letizia Paternoster (Trek-Segafredo) and Rachele Barbieri (BePink) to take the sprint victory.

Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) was untroubled in holding onto her overall lead to win the Tour for the second year in a row.

“I’m so excited and so thankful to my team. It was much smoother sailing than last year, I stayed upright and I'm really happy to be involved in the end to try to help (Sarah) Roy," Spratt said.

"This race is so special. When I sat down with my coach Gene Bates in October he asked me what my goals for the season were and the first thing I said was to win the Tour Down Under.

"It’s a home race, we’re an Australian team so it’s really special. Mum and dad are here and I’ve got people from the Blue Mountains here as well.

"I think what I’m loving is that it’s not just one rider getting the results, everyone in the team is strong in their own right but when we are all coming together for a team goal everyone is really executing and committing and it’s nice to be a part of.”

Hosking's sprint victory and evolution

While Spratt basked in the glow of another Tour victory, the marquee TV day belonged to Hosking who arrived on the final day with a plan.

The bunch sprint came at the end of a controlled day of racing, where the top teams were keen to keep the race together, either to contest the sprint finish or to keep their riders high on the general classification.

Ale-Cipollini's focus was to deliver Hosking and although it looked like Trek-Segafredo may have stolen a march on them by propelling Paternoster to the front, Hosking was able to burst through from behind and take a narrow victory.

“I’m actually really happy with the sprint,” said Hosking. “It was one of those that you really have to work for. Sometimes you feel more satisfied with those than where you just pedal over the line.

“We went in with a clear plan today. We knew we didn’t have the power of Trek or Mitchelton for the final two laps, so I asked the girls to be there in the last five to keep me out of trouble and then I would surf trains.

"The back of Trek’s train was really motoring and a gap opened up for me, or maybe I opened the gap, I’m not sure. It was only with 150 metres to go, I think, and I managed to get to the line.”

The 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medalist came in with a clear plan last season to be in good form in January, taking victory at the Cadel Evans’ Great Ocean Road Race to guarantee her selection to the Gold Coast games squad.

This season, the Australian sprinter has different goals.  

“I want to try and have a really good spring. I got a lot of top four positions last year, I want to convert them to top ones. There’s also a lot of selection races for the Tokyo Olympics, I’m looking to do well in those.

“To be honest, I’m trying to keep evolving as a rider. I would hate to get to 28 and for people to say ‘she’s done’.”

Hosking has always been headstrong, but now shapes as a leader on the road for her Italian team.

“The biggest thing is that my team has come over from Italy and invested a lot of time and money into this. While this isn’t my focus for the season – to be good in Australia – it’s nice to give something back to them so it wasn’t a total waste of time.

“To get a win on the board already for Ale-Cipollini is really nice and hopefully it’s a good motivation boost, both for the ones here and the others overseas training for races.”

While the prestige and level of competition of the Women's Tour Down Under increases year on year, with live television the latest uptick for the race, organisers still face a major challenge with the length of time between the big fixtures of the European calendar and the January race.

“It’s serious racing,” Hosking said. “I’m one of those riders that every race I go in, even if I can’t win it I want to have a good race, I want to support my teammates.

“This is my job, I’m not out here just to enjoy riding my bike, that’s just a nice added bonus. I’ve been saying to the girls that they need to use this time and the good weather to get really good training out of this so you can build a base and be good when you go back to Europe.

"I keep hammering that home to them, hopefully, they take that advice, but sometimes people don’t.”