Amanda Spratt, one of the key race favourites, has withdrawn from the Women’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race after experiencing abdominal pain overnight.
The Australian Lidl-Trek rider has long delivered powerful performances at the event, winning in 2016 and stepping onto the podium in the past three editions, so she was expected to be among the key cards for the team. Spratt’s climbing prowess has often proven a powerful asset when the race inevitably splits on the climb of Challambra.
“Unfortunately [Amanda Spratt] has been forced to withdraw from today’s [Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race] after experiencing some abdominal pain during the night. Get well soon, Spratty,” said the team in a statement released on social media.
Spratt later added more detail in a post on Instagram: “Kidney stone last night kept me very down & out and found myself watching the race from hospital instead of in it. Good thing is I am ok, recovering well and will look ahead to the Euro season now.”
While Spratt, who was second in 2023, may have been a strong card for the team, it had others among its remaining four riders signing on for the race. Brodie Chapman has often laid down a powerful performance at the race, finishing in or close to the top ten and her aggressive style suits the parcours.
Then the next obvious candidate was also Lauretta Hanson, who clearly came into the Australian summer in powerful form – her results included a second place at the Australian National Championships road race. Her turn of speed looked like it could be just what was required should the race come down to a small bunch sprint. However, as soon as the race rolled out she too had to withdraw, with Robbie McEwen, part of the commentary team on broadcaster Seven, saying on the coverage that she too had been unwell but started the race so the squad at least had the minimum required to roll out.
The team had already been down to five before the two illnesses, as Felicity Wilson-Haffenden – who rode with the squad at the Tour Down Under, was already off the start list in the run-up. That left the team with three out on the road once the race got underway – Chapman, Elynor Backstedt and Ilaria Sanguineti.
The 140.8km Women’s WorldTour race, playing out on Saturday, January 27, heads out from the Geelong waterfront, inland into the rolling hills and then back to Geelong via the coast before looping back in toward Geelong and two local circuits which include the climb of Challambra as a pivotal feature.
The race most often comes down to a solo victor or the smallest of groups, with the 2023 winner Loes Adegeest (FDJ-Suez) coming to the line with Spratt, and then clinching the victory in the two-way sprint. Then just four seconds behind Nina Buijsman (Human Powered Health) led in a group of 14 to claim the final podium spot.
The women’s race at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, also known as the Deakin University Elite Women’s Road Race, is the final battle in a packed January of racing in Australia, which started with the Australian National Championships in Ballarat, moved on to South Australia for the Tour Down Under and then shifted back to Victoria for the finale, with Sunday’s 174.4km elite men’s race closing out the Australian summer season.