The Australian has won the event three times and now she is chasing a fourth title at the three-day race starting January 12 on a course that has made it hard to look past her as a key favourite.
“I admit I was eagerly awaiting the announcement of the courses for this year and hoping that there might be something that finished uphill rather than all these downhill finishes we’ve seen in the previous editions,” the Lidl-Trek rider told Cyclingnews in an interview on the eve of the race.
That hope was realised, with the final stage of the event finishing on top of an iconic climb in the men’s race that has now found its way into the women’s event, Willunga Hill.
“As soon as I saw the announcement I was like ‘OK, that is really exciting and I am really pumped for that’, and for me that was straight away my big first goal of the year, it was always Tour Down Under.”
The last time Amanda Spratt won at the Tour Down Under was 2019, but her worst result since then has been third, and she was a very close runner-up to Grace Brown (FDJ-Suez) last year.
There’s no forgetting Spratt’s strong history at the race, particularly not during an interview that is conducted at The Hilton in Adelaide which goes all-out to mark its long-standing role as a race hub.
“For me there is a sense of excitement, walking up the stairs and you see your name on the steps and there is a giant version of myself staring down – that just feels cool,” said Spratt. “Especially down under I like it because my parents come and we have some family friends come often, you feel the home support.”
There is every reason for Spratt to be filled with anticipation every time she lines up at the South Australian event, given her history at it, but even more so perhaps this year than most.
For a start, there’s the summit finish, which plays right to her climbing strengths, and then also her clearly strong form at Australia’s Road National Championships where she was one of the strongest in the field on the uphill sections.
“I was pretty happy with how I went and how I was climbing so I’m feeling good for this week,” said Spratt.
That however, doesn’t mean it’s going to be anything but a battle to try and claim a spot on the top step, with strength on display among the Australian riders at the Road National Championships…