Spratt to boost Australia at road worlds

·3-min read

Buoyed by their Commonwealth Games domination, the Australian women's road cycling team will gain a double boost from Amanda Spratt for their home world championships.

The Australian women will boast good depth and supreme morale for the September 24 road race on a hilly course in and around Wollongong.

The host nation will fancy its chances of usurping the top favourites such as defending champion Elisa Balsamo and Dutch stars Marianne Vos, Annemiek van Vleuten and Demi Vollering.

The worlds start this Sunday with the elite men's and women's time trials, where Commonwealth Games champion Grace Brown will be a medal contender and Games road race winner Georgia Baker will also compete.

Spratt did not race at the Games - the course was too flat for her talents and she was also continuing to recover from major surgery late last year to fix an artery problem in her legs.

She is a natural leader and will be Australia's captain for the road race.

Given there are no race radios, Spratt will play a crucial role in calling the shots during the race, a role which takes on even greater significance given the hilly course profile means there will be many ways the medals could be decided.

But Spratt, who has two pre-COVID podium finishes at the world championships, could be a contender herself after strong form in the last few weeks.

Team sporting director Donna Rae-Szalinski and co-leader Loren Rowney started work late last year on tactics for the road race.

"I'm very happy to share Amanda's overall role - I'm not going to give any specifics of our strategy, obviously," she said.

"But Amanda comes in as a natural leader for our team and, as such, she's been an immense help to Loren and I.

"I very much welcome her 100 per cent professionalism and approach as a leader of our team ... she is top of the class."

Wollongong local Josie Talbot will also join the team for the worlds, while Ruby Roseman-Gannon was the only rider at the Games to miss selection for Wollongong.

The rest of the lineup is Brown, Baker, Games bronze medallist Sarah Roy, Brodie Chapman and Alex Manly.

The Australians strangled the life out of the Games road race and set up Baker for the win with faultless teamwork, to the extent that an English rival criticised their tactics.

"Working together in the Commonwealth Games was a wonderful beginning. We've done a lot this year building the culture of the group - this is stage two," Rae-Szalinski said.

"There's total commitment.

"It was a great opportunity at Comm Games to put our culture into practice.

"But culture is something you need to always work on ... the minute you relax and think 'aw, we're good" is the minute you're opening the door to challenges."

Teamwork will be critical, with Rae-Szalinski saying it looms as a "particularly strategic" worlds road race.

Asked how much she is looking forward to it, one of Australian cycling's great characters replied "500 million per cent."