Sport Cycling Tour Down Under: Amanda Spratt edged by fast-finishing American
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Tour Down Under: Amanda Spratt edged by fast-finishing American

American Ruth Winder is congratulated after winning the Tour Down Under. Photo: AAP
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Australian cycling queen Amanda Spratt’s reign in the Women’s Tour Down Under is over, with American Ruth Winder taking out overall honours.

Simona Frapporti (Bepink) upstaged the big guns to win Sunday evening’s final stage around a tight Adelaide street circuit, with Lauren Stephens (Tibco-SVB) and Rushlee Buchanan (New Zealand) filling out the podium.

But US road race champion Winder did just enough to preserve her overall lead and become the first international rider to win the general classification in the five-year history of the women’s event.

Australian team Mitchelton-Scott had dominated since its inception, with Katrin Garfoot’s 2016 triumph preceding a hat-trick of overall titles by Spratt.

The national road race champion looked set for a fourth victory when she took the ochre jersey from compatriot Chloe Hosking after winning stage two.

Spratt had never before relinquished the overall lead after claiming it on her way to a hat-trick of titles.

But Winder took control with a gutsy sprint finish on stage three – her first Tour Down Under stage win – and held on to her advantage during a tough final stage to create a slice of history.

German rising star Liane Lippert (Sunweb) was second in the general classification, with Spratt third.

“That race was pretty crazy. I used to do a lot of crit racing when I was young in the US, but it’s been a bit of a while since I’ve done a really hard one like that,” Winder said.

Spratt was joined by compatriots Australian trio Hosking (Rally Cycling), Jessica Pratt (Canyon-SRAM) and Peta Mullens (Roxsolt Attaquer) in the general classification top 10.

While disappointed not to win, Spratt said she was proud to be on the podium.

“My reign at the Tour Down Under had to end at some point,” Spratt said.

I can’t fault the team this week, they all rode really well. There wasn’t much more that we could have changed, we were just beaten by a stronger rider, especially on (Saturday’s) stage.

“It was a different Tour this year. It all came down to bonus seconds. That made it quite exciting and it put me out of my comfort zone today too.”

Meanwhile, Caleb Ewan fired an early shot ahead of the Tour Down Under, winning the Schwalbe Classic for a record fourth time.

Rain made for treacherous conditions on the tight 1.7-kilometre Adelaide street circuit and forced some riders to take more conservative approaches in the Tour prologue.

Australian sprint ace Ewan sat at the back of the peloton for about half of the 30-lap Classic before clawing his way towards the front with assistance from Lotto-Soudal teammate Roger Kluge.

The German created a gap on the final sprint for Ewan, who comfortably powered his way across the line.

Caleb Ewan on the Adelaide street circuit. Photo: AAP

It was the perfect way for Ewan to begin the new season after a breakout 2019 campaign that yielded five Grand Tour stage wins for his Belgian squad.

“I started this season with a bit of pressure to replicate what I did last year or try to grow my wins on top of that,” Ewan said.

“This was my first race of the season – usually I’ve done some races before – but I felt really good out there.

“I was pretty relaxed for the first half sitting down the back and when I needed to go, I got up into position and that was it.”

It was Ewan’s fourth Schwalbe Classic win in five years as Italian star Elia Viviani and his Cofidis teammate Simone Consonni filled out the podium.

-with AAP

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