Spratt attacks to take the Santos Women’s Tour stage three victory and lead
The 2017 Santos Women’s Tour overall winner Amanda Spratt showed her class once again by taking an impressive victory on today’s stage three to move into the overall race lead with just one stage remaining. Spratt made a well-timed attack with around 40kilometres remaining after current race leader Katrin Garfoot (UniSA) was caught out and had to chase back after a significant split in the peloton. The 30-year-old was joined by Lauren Stephens (Cylance) and the pair worked to maintain their distance over the peloton before fighting for the stage win on the steep climb in Handorf. Gutter action: The day began with strong winds and a very nervous bunch as they finished the neutral and turned into a crosswind. Immediately, the peloton shattered into three groups and after 10kilometres it looked like the splits would last but another change of direction and fierce headwind helped the peloton regroup and remain that way until 50kilometres. One woman escapee: Former world time trial champion Linda Villumsen (Team New Zealand) made a brave solo move into the wind and as the rain began to come down as the bunch steadily pushed into a headwind. Within five kilometres Villumsen opened up a dangerous advantage of five minutes. The perfect set up: As UniSA began to react under the pressure of the solo leader, a small but dangerous group formed with Annemiek van Vleuten and Lucy Kennedy representing Mitchelton-SCOTT. With race leader Garfoot missing the split, she was forced to do the chasing whilst Spratt was able to conserve energy on her wheel. The winning move: As Garfoot closed down the dangerous group, Spratt chose a perfect moment to launch an attack and was joined by Lauren Stephens (Cylance). The duo bridged across to the solo leader Villumsen and the trio hovered around 1minute 45seconds ahead of the bunch. After dropping Villumsen, it was a battle between the two, with Spratt coming out on top, gapping Stephens on the tough steep drag to the line. Amanda Spratt - Stage winner & overall leader: “The team were just amazing. Linda Villumsen got out there and got that big gap and we didn’t panic, actually Annemiek was there and she really calmed me down because I was stressing.” “UniSA started to panic and they started to send riders up the road and we actually got in an ideal move with Annemiek and Lucy in there with Kat behind. Kat panicked and had to do some work. I sat on her and as soon as she caught the group, I attacked straight away.” “I knew it was the perfect moment. We did exactly what we wanted, we isolated Kat, and I could capitalise off that.” “I was feeling very strong but you can never underestimate Lauren Stevens, she is a strong rider, I have had some battles with her in Europe over the years. I knew she would be strong, but 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.” “It’s so exciting and I’m still a little bit in shock (about taking the race lead). I’m so grateful to the team for giving me the opportunity, 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.” Annemeik van Vleuten: “Linda Villumsen was in front and I thought that was perfect for us because we wanted to have UniSA working and as she got more minutes, they would have to do more to bring it down. “Spratty was feeling like she had the jersey and had to do the chasing, so I just calmed her down and said we can actually back off. We had a plan, so I said we don’t chase, we play poker and let UniSA get nervous. “It worked out really well and we really put UniSA on the back foot.” Stage three 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 three: 1. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 9:39:52 2. Lauren Stephens (Cycling Pro Cycling) +0:29 3. Katrin Garfoot (UniSA) +1:31 Photo courtesy of TDWsport.