• Amanda Spratt (right) stands with Anna van der Breggen (left) and Annemiek van Vleuten (centre) on the world championships podium (Getty)Source: Getty
Amanda Spratt produced a superb performance to take the bronze medal behind the Dutch powerhouse pair of Annemiek van Vleuten and Anna van der Breggen in the world championships road race in Yorkshire. Kieran Pender caught up with the Aussie star after the race.
Kieran Pender

29 Sep 2019 - 8:50 AM 

It was, Amanda Spratt admitted, the hardest race she had ever raced. “Mentally and physically, today was just on another level,” she exclaimed. Across 150 kilometres of undulating Yorkshire terrain in inclement English weather, the world’s best female riders suffered through the 2019 UCI Road World Championships road race.

While she could not match Annemiek van Vleuten’s stunning solo effort, Spratt fought valiantly for third – becoming the only Australian woman to medal twice in the Road World Championships road race, following her silver in 2018. Spratt observed afterwards that she had “won” bronze, and it was an apt comment. This was no consolation medal, but a real reward for a fantastic day of riding.

“I am proud of how I executed and grateful to the team for helping me do that,” said Spratt. “It was brutal. The fact that the race opened up so early made it very, very hard. It was just epic. I finished totally empty – the first five or six riders across the line felt that way.”

Van Vleuten stuns peloton with 100km solo to win world championships
Annemiek van Vleuten attacked with 105 kilometres remaining in the 149.4-kilometre world championships road race, holding off an elite group of chasers and the peloton to claim one of the most outrageous wins in recent memory. Australian Amanda Spratt showed she was one of the best of the rest, taking the bronze medal behind Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands).

Lining up against a formidable Dutch squad, Australia controlled the early tempo – Jessica Allen looking comfortable on the front despite her late call-up. But when van Vleuten attacked and compatriot Anna van der Breggen followed in the chase, with Marianne Vos remaining with the peloton, the Netherlands’ fearsome trident seemed unassailable.

The Netherland's tactics and van Vleuten’s long-range effort caught many off-guard.

“A lot of people didn’t expect Annemiek to attack so early,” Spratt explained. “Personally, it did not surprise me – she is my team-mate and I know she does crazy stuff like that.”

But while the Australian may have had the benefit of familiarity, she was unable to reel in her Mitchelton-Scott colleague during the 100-kilometre long chase.

This powerhouse Dutch team again exerted their dominance in Yorkshire, but the Australians rode superbly in support of Spratt. “That was a great ride from all of them,” reflected coach Gene Bates. “This result highlights the strong culture in the team. It probably one of the toughest bike races we have seen in a long time.”

Spratt’s elation following the medal ceremony said it all. Although bronze is a step lower on the podium than her result last year, nothing about the 32-year-old’s joyous reaction indicated any disappointment. “It is hard to compare,” she said diplomatically. “The courses were very different.”

Indeed, after the race, Spratt quipped: “There will be some celebrations tonight.” For one night only, the Australian women will be merry and enjoy the glow of Spratt’s bronze medal. There might be some sore heads on Sunday morning. But attention will then immediately turn to Tokyo.

Having demonstrated for the second consecutive year that she is one of the best riders on the planet, Spratt knows that Olympic gold is within her grasp. “This gives me confidence,” Spratt said. “I have said before that I am really targeting the Olympics, and bronze here helps me believe we can put a strong plan in place and then execute.”

The Australians might also be boosted in Tokyo by the limited number of rider spots per nation – both Australia and the Dutch are likely to have just four riders each. While a line-up of van Vleuten, van der Breggen, Vos and one other is enough to strike fear into the hearts of any peloton, the small team size does significantly limit the Dutch advantage.

Beyond the Olympics, the 2020 Worlds Championships in Switzerland features a climber-friendly course that, like Innsbruck in 2018, will play to Spratt’s strengths. Having secured silver and now bronze, only one medal continues to elude the Sydneysider. With van Vleuten four years Spratt’s senior, the passage of time may also give Spratt the upper hand in 12 months.

A sign inside Australia’s team bus at the Road World Championships reads: “Chasing dreams”. Bronze was not Spratt’s dream in Yorkshire, but she will take it nonetheless. The dream of gold, whether in Tokyo or Switzerland, lives on.