Amanda Spratt is relishing comparisons to fellow Australian cycling star Simon Gerrans as she looks at building on her best season so far.
The 29-year-old and Gerrans are two-time Australian road race champions who have strong all-round abilities.
Among Gerrans’ main goals each year are the Ardennes one-day classics in the European spring. He is the only Australian to have won Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
The debuts of women’s races next year at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Amstel Gold, with their tough, punchy climbs, have Spratt licking her lips.
Spratt’s continued progression as a rider, her strong leadership qualities and now her Ardennes ambitions have prompted comparisons to Gerrans.
“I’ve been told that a couple of times now,” Spratt told AAP.
“I’m not going to complain about that.
“It’s really nice, to even be considered a similar rider to him.
“He’s achieved so much and he’s a very professional athlete.”
Spratt quickly contacted her coach Gene Bates when the women’s Ardennes races were confirmed.
“When I found that out, I sent Gene a message saying ‘my spring just got a whole lot more exciting’,” she said.
“They’re the races I’m really excited about.”
Already regarded as one of Australia’s top women on the road, Spratt went to another level this year.
The Orica-Scott leader won her second Australian road title and took out the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road race.
Spratt then won the Queen stage and finished second overall at Thuringen Rundfahrt, a major women’s race in Germany.
She then led a solid Australian team effort in the road race at the Rio Olympics with 15th place.
Spratt’s growing confidence and self-belief are obvious, but she has had to work on it.
She noted there was no post-Olympics letdown, rather a strong sense of satisfaction about her performance.
“I was quite confident going in there and I was pretty calm as well,” she said of Rio.
“That’s something I’ve often struggled with, is maybe letting the nerves get too much or putting too much pressure on myself.
“It’s something I’ve worked on a little bit, but a lot of it has just come from that experience … and becoming more confident in myself.”
It also means Spratt is unconcerned about having a massive target on her back come January 8, when she defends her Australian road title at Buninyong near Ballarat.
So long as someone from the powerful Orica-Scott team wins, Spratt will be happy.
“I actually don’t feel any real pressure at all,” she said.
“The way I’m looking at it is that I’ve won it twice before, that’s great, and how great it feels to win that jersey.
“Definitely, I’d love to be able to do that again.”