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ANGASTON, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 11: Amanda Spratt of...

Spratt enters 2020 hoping for Olympic gold

Tokyo remains the big focus for the Australian, but Ardennes, Giro, and Worlds also to feature in a season packed with target events.

Amanda Spratt took third at the world championships in September, but such was the enormity of Annemiek van Vleuten’s solo victory that the feat went almost unnoticed. With all the attention on Van Vleuten’s 100km breakaway, there was little space left to discuss the other riders in the race.

Spratt has been on the rise in the past two seasons, and after finishing second at the worlds in Innsbruck in 2018, the Australian’s place on the Yorkshire podium was far from unexpected. With such success behind her, she begins 2020 with her sights set firmly on winning Olympic gold in Tokyo next summer.

“It’s a big goal for sure,” Spratt said. She spoke to VeloNews during a break from pre-season training at home near Sydney, Australia.

“I have changed my mentality a little bit, I still have all my goals around the Ardennes and Giro and the worlds, so am not putting every single ounce of energy in thinking about the Olympics.”

There is little doubt we will see her in the decisive moments of most, if not all those targets. As well as her two world championships podiums, the last two seasons have seen her finish third in two editions of the Giro Rosa, both behind Mitchelton-Scott teammate Van Vleuten.

Spratt is equally comfortable in spring classics as she is in stage races. Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images

In 2018 Spratt finished top-five in each of the Ardennes classics and won the mountainous, four-day Emakumeen Bira, where she was second this time around. She may lack a huge headline result, but there is no doubt that Spratt occupies a place at the very top of the sport.

Now 32, Spratt’s success has been a long time coming, but despite this, on the worlds podium last September there was neither huge disappointment or ecstatic celebration. Her reaction was as understated and controlled as she appears.

“I’m someone you can call a quiet achiever, sitting there and soaking all the knowledge up like a sponge,” she said. “Maybe I’ve had the confidence to use it in the last couple of years.”

“I feel like I have really stepped up another level. It’s been years and years of working hard. I’ve had really good support form my Mitchelton-Scott team and from Cycling Australia, and just to go to worlds with such a united Australian team – it’s been really special.

“I’ve been working with [coach] Gene Bates for five years and our relationship has developed really well. He’s had such a huge influence on my career and my progression, even my mental approach, he’s given me so much confidence.”

In 2016 Spratt was joined at Mitchelton-Scott by Van Vleuten, during which time the Dutchwoman has herself developed. Along with her road world championships and two rainbow jerseys against the clock, she two wins and a second-place at the Giro Rosa, and collected a host of wins in many of the sport’s other top races.

She and Spratt are similar riders whose ambitions often overlap, and though that’s not a problem at the worlds and Olympics, there is apparently no issue when the two ride for the same team during the regular season.

“We have a really good relationship, the key is that we’re really open and honest with each other,” Spratt said. “We know we have pretty similar goals and we don’t hide behind that fact. We don’t just hope everything will work out on race day, we talk about our goals and how can I win and how she can win and how can we benefit from each other.”

Spratt placed third at the worlds in Yorkshire having placed second in the 2018 Innsbruck championships. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Immediately after the world championships podium, Spratt began dissecting her performance, telling those around her there was more she could have done. While time has given her perspective, Spratt maintains there is room for improvement.

“I find it hard to be satisfied with anything that I achieve,” she explains. “I think I can improve on everything.”

“My climbing is going really really well but that’s something I can always improve on. I’d still like to improve on my sprinting, in that small group scenario I think I can be one of the fastest girls. I am constantly learning the tactics too. Realistically, I have only been in the finals of these big races the last two seasons so I’m also still working out how other riders respond in different situations.”

In January, Spratt will attempt to regain the national title she won in 2016 and win a fourth consecutive edition of the Santos Women’s Tour. However, her bigger targets come later in the year. Years of physical and tactical development suggest she could well among the medals in Tokyo.