ADELAIDE, Australia (CT) – The four-day Santos Women’s Tour Down Under has wrapped up with Chloe Hosking (Ale-Cipollini) taking the win in the final stage, while Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) recovered from a mid-race crash to keep her grip on the overall.
The sprinters stages bookended the four-day tour, with the final 46 kilometre street circuit around the Adelaide being the opportunity riders like Gorgia Bronzini (Cylance Cycling), Hosking and Annette Edmondson (Wiggle High5) have been holding out for through the cross winds and climbs of Stages 2 and 3.
The 20 lap race started off with a chance for retiring pro racer Carlee Taylor (Holden Team Gusto) to have some time out the front in her last UCI classified race. But inevitably the home-town rider was swallowed back in to the bunch before the first sprint point, as ceremonial laps weren’t an option when there was a sprint jersey up for grabs.
The first intermediate sprint was taken by Katrin Garfoot (UniSA-Australia) and that set the pattern for the rest of the race as she kept charging out the front and soaking up those points.
However, the second of four intermediate sprints threatened to unravel the ochre jersey race. As riders were positioning for it there was a big crash that took down about 15. That included Stage 1 winner Edmondson and Spratt. The two-time Australian road champion went down solidly and was clearly rattled but got up and kept riding. Teammate Jessica Allen shepherded Spratt back into the field and the squad rallied to calm her frayed nerves. In no time at all she was moving up toward the front in what looked like a statement to say I’m back.
The pace then predictably wound up in the final laps, with Ale-Cipollini working out the front as they held one of the top favourites in their ranks, Hosking. And she delivered. Australia’s top ranked cyclist Hosking beat two-time world champion Bronzini to the line and Edmondson rolled through in third.
Spratt came through with the bunch to win the overall for a second year and deliver the team a much needed win on home soil. The 30-year-old rider all but wrapped up the overall classification of the tour on Stage 3, getting a considerable gap on most of the field in a breakaway with Lauren Stephens (Cylance). Spratt then distanced Stephens on the final climb to win on a stage which she had earmarked on her December reconnaissance of the course.
It may sound like a case of the same old story – Mitchelton-Scott winning the Santos Women’s Tour just like they do every year – but it was far from a repeat of past victories. This year Australia’s only UCI listed team came into the race with fiercer competition than ever before, particularly with a talent packed UniSA-Australia team to contend with. It would probably be fair to say there was also more at stake than ever.
With the UCI ranking shifting up to 2.1 came a tripling of the points on offer and Mitchelton-Scott also was due for an Aussie win. The team walked away from Australia’s FedUni Road National Championships without an elite title, after having taken the clean sweep in 2017.
Spratt also won the Queen of the Mountain classification, while Garfoot’s clean sweep of the intermediate sprints meant she walked away with the sprinters jersey and Grace Anderson (Vantage New Zealand National Team) secured the young riders jersey.
Now the focus will turn to the Women’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on Saturday January 27.