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Spratt wants cycling strength in numbers

AAP logoAAP 10/01/2017 Roger Vaughan

Far from being worried about sharing the same lofty ambitions as her teammate, Australian cycling star Amanda Spratt sees it as a potential strength.

Spratt and Dutch rider Annamiek van Vleuten will join defending champion Katrin Garfoot as the key Orica-Scott riders in the Santos Women's Tour.

The four-day Adelaide race from January 14-17 is a major goal for Spratt, but her top targets this year are the Ardennes Classics.

In particular, Spratt will focus on Amstel Gold and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Van Vleuten has also made it clear she wants to peak for the Ardennes races, especially given Amstel Gold is based in The Netherlands.

It is the sort of scenario that could have the potential to cause rifts and wreck team spirit.

But Spratt pointed to top women's team Boels-Dolmans, noting they are renowned for playing the numbers game.

"The big thing we're seeing in women's cycling now is that if you look at the No.1 team, Boels-Dolmans, they're a team that get four riders in that final selection of eight," she said.

"Then they can use their numbers and that's probably the next big step for our team - getting the numbers in that selection and being able to use it."

Spratt said the key to making it work would be a clear understanding before each big race of where the riders fit into the team plan.

"Sometimes there might be four people putting their hands up for Amstel Gold or Liege-Bastogne-Liege, so it's a matter of talking through it," she said.

"Everyone still has different strengths, so we go into a race like Amstel and someone like Annamiek might wait until the last climb ... someone like me probably has to use my cards a little bit earlier."

Spratt added that Orica-Scott plan to make their presence felt in the European spring classics.

"There is a real sense that a few of us have stepped up a level, even in the last six months," she said.

"The classics last year, maybe we took a little bit longer to (find) our feet and get going, but that's something we've definitely worked on heading to Europe this year.

"We're really going to hit the ground running."

Spratt in particular has started the year in strong form.

She nearly lapped the field to a win race two in the Bay Classic series and then dominated the nationals road race alongside Garfoot, who outsprinted her for the title.

Garfoot, who also won her second-straight time trial championship at the nationals, said she might try to expand her horizons this year and target the Giro Rosa stage race.

Spratt hopes to also ride at the Giro, helping Garfoot.

"It's really exciting and it's something that the team is looking at, to target the Giro a bit," Spratt said.

"Some people have said she's still a bit of an untapped talent and that's definitely true.

"She's never really done any hill climbing efforts ... to think of her actually targeting a GC in a tour is really exciting for the team."

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