Cyclist Amanda Spratt misses defending national title but has eyes on a bigger prize

Amanda Spratt training in the Italian Alps last July.
Amanda Spratt training in the Italian Alps last July.

She might not be defending her Australian road racing title in January, but Springwood cyclist Amanda Spratt still has high hopes for 2021.

COVID-19 international travel restrictions saw Spratt make the call to stay in Europe, rather than return to Australian before Christmas as usual.

"It was a very hard decision to make as I know that means I won't see my family for a long time - probably until October 2021 - but I am fortunate that I have loved ones in both Australia and Europe so that helps," she said.

Instead she is preparing for a "solid block of pre-season training" in Italy and Switzerland before going to Spain for seven weeks ahead of the season's first races.

Her extended time in Europe allowed Spratt to reflect on a year of disruption caused by COVID-19 and then injury.

"2020 was certainly challenging for obvious reasons. It started off really well, becoming Australian champion again and being on the podium in every race I started, but once we got to Europe and COIVD really hit everything was cancelled. We were in lockdown and had no races for six months," she said.

A crash in the seventh stage of the nine-day Giro Rosa in Italy on September 17 saw Spratt taken to hospital.

"I suffered a concussion and a shoulder injury that kept me out for a few weeks meaning I had to miss my major goals - the world championships and the Ardennes Classics," she said.

"It was a hard situation but I am fortunate that I have a great team around me that really made sure I didn't push anything until my concussion symptoms had subsided. I worked daily with our team doctor to ensure I was ready once it was time to ride again."

She said 2020 reminded her "how important it is to be flexible and able to cope with changes at the last minute".

"It's also reminded me that there are always different ways to achieve your goals. Sometimes we are so set in our ways so it's been fun to explore some new ways to work towards my goals like getting out on the dirt trails and adding in some extra gym work."

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Spratt has signed a new two-year contract with GreenEDGE cycling.

"Our Dutch leader from the last year, Annemiek van Vleuten, has moved to another team for 2021 so that opens up more possibilities on our team now, both for me but also many of my teammates. I'm really excited and ready to step into that leader role at more races and support my teammates to do the same," she said.

Spratt aims to be in peak condition in March and April for races including the Ardennes classics in Holland and Belgium. All going to plan, this will be followed by the Giro in Italy and the Tokyo Olympics in July before September's world championships.

"We have regular contact with the Australian Olympic Committee so I am very confident that the Games will go ahead - they will just be run very differently in terms of the 'experience', time in Japan and spectators," she said.

One bright spot in 2020 was the increasing profile of women's cycling.

"Despite COVID it's been pleasing to see women's cycling really stepping up in terms of coverage and visibility in 2020. Almost all of our world tour races were available in Australia on SBS as well as worldwide which is so important to progress the sport and teams," said Spratt. "I would say in the last few years the professionalism has really stepped up another level with several really top teams where riders can now make a good living out of the sport. It's an exciting time to be a part of it all and I think it's only going to progress further moving forwards."