Spratt buoyed by strong road race team

Amanda Spratt believes her Australian road race team can win an Olympic medal.
Amanda Spratt believes her Australian road race team can win an Olympic medal.

Cycling star Amanda Spratt has backed Australia to defy the might of The Netherlands and win a medal in the women's road race.

Spratt, one of the favourites for Sunday's 137km event, rates the current Australian women's road race team as the strongest of her three Olympics.

"We're realistically targetting a podium ... we can achieve that," she told SEN.

"It's a really exciting team that we have and if I look to my past Olympic experiences it's also surely the strongest team I've had in a number of years, and for this course as well."

While the 33-year-old is at the peak of her career and the obvious team leader, Australia can play several cards.

Road captain Tiff Cromwell, rising time trial star Grace Brown and young gun Sarah Gigante are making their Olympic debuts.

All four Australians could contend for a medal, depending on how the race unfolds and which one of them features in the decisive break.

The hilly course, coupled with hot and humid conditions, means the race will come down to a select group.

The Dutch are the overwhelming favourites, with all four of their riders boasting gold medal credentials.

Anna van der Breggen is the reigning Olympic champion and has won two of the last three road race world titles, split by her teammate Annamiek van Vleuten.

In Rio, van Vleuten was on her way to the gold medal when she crashed horribly on the last descent.

Marianne Vos, regarded as the best women's cyclist of her generation, won the 2012 Olympic road race and is a three-time world champion.

Demi Vollering is enjoying an excellent season, with a couple of big one-day wins.

But Spratt is also one of the top contenders after finishing second in the road race at the 2018 world championships and third a year later.

"I really feel like I'm hitting that peak in my career," she said.

"I certainly go into Tokyo with a completely different mindset of what I'm capable of, but also what our whole team is capable of as well."

Spratt crashed in the Giro d'Italia earlier this month and later pulled out with one stage left to focus on her Games preparations.

Australian Associated Press