Amanda Spratt will be part of history when the first Le Tour de France Femmes starts on July 24, departing from the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris. All eyes will be on the peloton as they embark on a gruelling eight-stage race, covering more than 1000 kilometres.
The Springwood resident will call upon her experience from three Olympic Games and multiple World Championships as she competes in arguably the most significant race of her career. A leader for her team, Team BikeExchange-Jayco, Spratt recognises the importance of the moment both personally and for future generations.
"Anyone looking to our sport who maybe has a dream of becoming an athlete or a professional cyclist...now they are going to be able to see us racing, to see females racing and see that this is really something they can dream to be. That is a really important message that is going to come from Le Tour de France," Spratt, 35, said.
"I think it is absolutely amazing that we have Le Tour de France for women now. For me, that is so exciting that I can finally say 'yes' to that (racing in Le Tour de France). It's been a long time coming, but I am really excited that in my career I am going to get the chance to race it."
The growth of women's professional cycling has been exponential, and Spratt's career has mirrored this rise. A scholarship through the Australian Institute of Sport shortly after leaving school was her entry into the world of professional cycling. While many will judge success based on podiums, medals and overall victories, Spratt has maintained a grounded perspective, understanding that the emphasis on the journey and commitment to her craft is the true measure of success.
"It took years and years of training to really progress. I think I was racing in Europe for almost 10 years before I got my first professional victory," Spratt said.
"It just takes persistence and resilience and just chasing the dream...I never lost sight of that."
This perspective has been important for Spratt as injury twice nearly derailed her career. A diagnosis of Piriformis Syndrome in 2008 led to 18-months of rehabilitation. Then in 2020, Illiac Artery Endofibrosis threatened to cut Spratt's career short. All the while, the love of cycling and competition helped ensure a laser focus and motivated Spratt to come through the other side.
"Fundamentally, I just love riding my bike, I just love cycling...and have done since I was a young kid. For me...I always come back to that."
The iconic mountain ranges of Europe provide an ideal training ground for Spratt, the terrain and the territory enable her to hone her skills in preparation for the major races on the cycling calendar. All the while, scaling mountain climbs across the world on two wheels, Spratt reflects on the role of her hometown on shaping her passion for cycling.
"(Growing up in the Blue Mountains) has definitely defined the sort of rider that I am and the rider that I have become," Spratt said.
"One of my favourite rides is to go from Springwood up to Katoomba and along Cliff Drive - I see some amazing places and scenery in Europe, but every year I come back to the Blue Mountains and I think riding along Cliff Drive and past the Three Sisters is some of the most spectacular scenery that I see."
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