AMANDA Spratt has thrust her name before the selectors with the task of choosing the Australian road team for this year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
Spratt took out her second national elite women’s road race title at Buninyong on Sunday to launch her “Road to Rio” campaign.
While the victory at the MARS Cycling Australia Road National Championships provides no guarantee for Olympic selection, it is the ideal launching pad for Spratt for a big Australian summer before taking on Europe.
A member of the powerful Orica AIS professional team, Spratt out-sprinted Queensland veteran and another past national road race champion Ruth Corset after the two broke away from a five-strong lead group on the last of the 10 climbs up the Midland Highway.
Spratt fired up her final sprint with about 300m to quickly seal gold.
The 28-year-old’s teammate Rachel Neylan claimed the bronze medal.
Spratt won her first national road race title in 2012, also an Olympic year, but did go to ride in London so is well aware of the long road ahead to secure selection for Rio.
She now goes to the Tour Down Under in South Australia and the Cade Evans Race on the Great Ocean Road before leaving for Europe. Her primary assignment there will be the new Women's WorldTour, which replaces the professional women’s World Cup.
She said she planned to contest as many hilly one-day events as possible.
Spratt believes having a strong contingent of Orica AIS riders vying for a place in the Olympic team would be beneficial, which everyone competitive and pushing each other.
Sarah Roy, who in the closing stages provided key support for Spratt, and New South Wales compatriot Louisa Lobigs made the first decisive move of the 102km event, which for the first time was ridden on the Sunday as a prelude to the elite men’s event.
They jumped away in the first 50km to to get almost three minutes clear of the main bunch.
The pair stayed away until inside two laps to go when joined by Spratt, Corset and Kimberley Wells, and with a lap to go this quintet had a 42-second break.
Spratt and Corset then made their break, and that was the way it stayed.
Spratt said Roy had given everything to help her after being caught despite cramping.
She said Roy’s assistance had enabled her conserve important energy for final lap.
Queenslander Jenelle Crooks claimed the women’s under-23 title after finishing 10th overall.
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