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Amanda Spratt feels like a neo-pro as she moves to Trek-Segafredo for 2023

The Australian is looking to put challenging seasons behind her after trouble with iliac artery endofibrosis.

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Amanda Spratt may be 35, but she feels like a rookie after signing for a new team for the first time in her career.

An 11-year veteran of cycling, Spratt had spent her entire career with the same team after turning professional with the Australian GreenEdge setup back in 2012.

That all changed over the winter after she joined Trek-Segafredo on a two-year contract.

“My coach asked me the other day, I’m sure I’m not a neo-pro, because just talking with so much excitement about next year,” Spratt told VeloNews. “I can’t wait. Obviously, I’ve had an amazing 11 years with GreenEdge, but I just think I was ready for a change and a new challenge. And it’s just really the right moment.”

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Spratt made her Trek-Segafredo debut at the Bay Cycling Classic in her native Australia, where she has notched up two top-10 finishes. She’s racing on her own for now but will meet up with her teammates in a couple of weeks when the WorldTour rolls into town with the Tour Down Under.

It will be the first time she has raced with her new teammates. Due to spending her off-season at home in Australia, she hasn’t had too many opportunities to meet up with her Trek teammates, though she did get a chance to do it at a team-building camp soon after the 2022 season wrapped up.

Having been one of the well-established members of her previous team, she’s getting used to being the new kid on the block at Trek.

“It definitely feels strange. I was 11 years in one team, and I really haven’t been part of another professional team before, she said. “I’m asking you all the dumb questions and not knowing how things work. So, I’m trying to get my head around that, which is funny, because I’m 35, and one of the older people in the peloton now, so I obviously come to the team with heaps of experience, but I’m starting new.

“Everything’s changed, like my bike, kit, computer, shoes, everything has changed. But I think, for me, it’s just the overwhelming feeling is more just excitement, just a fresh start, and motivation. I’m joining one of the best teams in the world, so I’m just really excited to get started.”

Spratt had pondered on staying with the team she had grown with as a professional, but with the end of her career now closer than the beginning, she didn’t want to leave the sport without having tried something else. For her, there was only one other place that she wanted to go and that was Trek.

“It was really about just a new challenge for myself,” Spratt said. “I wasn’t incredibly unhappy or anything. There’s nothing hugely wrong with GreenEdge, but I’ve been 11 years on one team, and I know I don’t have a million years left ahead of me. I’ve always sort of had this thought in my head, do I want to go throughout my whole cycling career and never try something different?

“In some ways, maybe the easier option would be to stay at GreenEDGE, but I felt like I owed it to myself to try something different, something new. This opportunity came around with Trek and they’ve been a team that I’ve always looked up to since they started.

“They’re a team that has constantly pushed the professionalism of the sport and parity between men and women. I’ve always admired that about the team. So, if you’d asked me in the last few years if there was another team I really wanted to race for then Trek would have been at the top of the list.”

The switch of teams will see Spratt placed in a very different environment than she’s used to. Throughout much of her time at GreenEdge, which is racing as Jayco-AlUla in 2023, Spratt has often been a lone leader or shared the role with just one other rider.

Spratt did share some responsibilities with Annemiek van Vleuten before she left at the end of 2020, and the 2022 season saw her occasionally partner up with Kristen Faulkner. She is likely to get some responsibilities at Trek this season, but she is joining a team that is bulging with very strong riders where nearly everyone could argue their case for leadership.

“GreenEdge had some good riders on there, but I think that sort of focus is more turned into a bit more of a development and developing younger riders and less experienced riders,” Spratt said. “With Trek, they have so many good riders that can fit in and win races, but I think that’s something that really excites me.

“I can see myself fitting in, obviously, in the climbing group and being there alongside Elisa [Longo Borghini] and Lizzie [Deignan] and, depending on how our climbers are going, really being able to play the game there with numbers.

“We’re seeing a lot, a lot of teams now that have really big numbers, in the finals, and Trek has always been such a tactically good team as well. I think I can add an extra number there. And I think I bring a lot of experience into the team.”

Wiping the slate clean

Joining Trek-Segafredo is not just an opportunity for Spratt to try something new, but it is a chance for her to wipe the slate clean after some challenging seasons.

Her last three years have been marred by trouble with an iliac artery endofibrosis and recovery from the surgery to treat it. Spratt was diagnosed with the condition toward the end of the 2021 season after struggling with it for some time.

She had surgery for it early in that off-season and had hoped to be back to her peak by the spring of 2022. However, it took a little longer than she hoped, and just as she was getting back into the swing of things she was hit by a bout of COVID-19 at the Giro d’Italia Donne and then crashed out of the Tour de France Femmes.

Spratt is hoping that this year can prove to be a turning point for her.

“I won’t lie, it has been a really hard few years. I had the surgery, but before that my form was just getting worse and worse without any real answers. Getting the diagnosis was almost a relief, but then I had the surgery and it took like a long time to come back from that, longer than I thought,” she told VeloNews.

“I felt like I was chasing my tail a bit for the whole of the season. I like saw glimpses of form around the Giro and then had some bad luck there with COVID and crashes and whatnot. So, I feel like it’s the first time since 2019 that I’ve had a normal pre-season.

“The last couple of years haven’t been easy. It is nice, just mentally, to set a new challenge for myself to start a new and with a new team. I haven’t had my greatest few seasons, but they obviously see something in me, and I’m really excited about that. For me, it’s definitely coming at the right time.”

Spratt has got her season underway already with the Bay Cycling Classic and she will keep racing throughout January with the Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on her program. After so many struggles over the last three seasons, Spratt feels as though she’s on the right path again.

“I think it’s gone really well and, sort of, no news is good news in pre-season. I haven’t had any real interruptions I’ve just been able to slowly build back up which has been nice and just take my time, she said. “I feel like my form is actually coming pretty good. Now I was down at my local club in Penrith, doing a crit race and I’ve been out riding with my brother and we’re still as competitive as ever.

“He usually knows when to make me suffer when I don’t want to suffer. There’s still a little bit of that sibling rivalry, but that’s nice. I feel like the form is coming back and I feel really excited and ready to race again.”

Though she doesn’t want to come out of the traps too hard in January, Spratt is hopeful that she can get her time with Trek-Segafredo off to a winning start. It has been almost three years since she last stepped on the top of the podium, and she’d love to get a W early in the season.

“I’m hoping to start really strong. I know at this time of the year I can’t afford to train too much and be going crazy with flying. It’s a long season but I do know what I need to do and what it takes to be winning races in January,” she said. “That’s what I’m preparing for and I’m really hoping to get a win under the belt in January. I haven’t won a race since 2020, at Down Under. So, I’d really love to be able to win a race for Trek in January.”