Spratt hospitalised as Reijnhout wins Cadel’s race

Sally and Mick Howe with their daughter Georgie from the LIV Jayco team before the race. (Ivan Kemp) 385183_07

Amanda Spratt had to watch from her hospital bed as Dutch teenager Rosita Reijnhout became the youngest winner of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.

The Australian cycling star, one of the pre-race favourites, did not start on Saturday in Geelong because of a kidney stone.

Instead, Spratt watched the race on TV and saw 19-year-old Reijnhout unleash a well-timed solo attack with 4km left in the 143km race.

The Team Visma rider broke clear of Poland’s Dominika Wlodarczyk (UAE Team ADQ) and Danish star Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Suez) after the trio had gone clear a kilometre earlier.

After the Dutch teen built a gap, Wlodarczyk and Uttrup Ludwig chased Reijnhout down. Had the race gone another 50 metres, they would have swamped her.

As it was, Reijnhout had to ask at the finish line whether she had held on, before celebrating her first win not just on the WorldTour but at any level in cycling.

“I just went for it,” Reijnhout said.

“If you don’t try, you don’t know. I don’t believe it.”

The teenager is the latest addition to the production line of Dutch stars who dominate women’s road cycling.

Reijnhout said she is inspired by legendary teammate Marianne Vos, the multiple Olympic and world champion.

Another Dutch 19-year-old, Nienke Vinke, finished runner-up earlier this month at the Tour Down Under.

The key feature of the race was two laps of the finishing circuit, which includes the tough Challambra Crescent climb inside the last 10km.

Uttrup Ludwig attacked first on the final Challambra ascent and she was joined by her two fellow leaders.

“I was just too done. I gave it a go and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” Uttrup Ludwig said of her move.

The race was dominated by strong winds, which suited Reijnhout given the blustery conditions prevalent at her Dutch coastal home.

Uttrup Ludwig’s teammate Grace Brown was the first Australian home, taking fifth place.

Apart from losing Spratt, the Lidl-Trek team suffered another blow when her fellow Australian Lauretta Hanson pulled out immediately after the start because of illness.

Spratt said on Instagram she was “so disappointed” to miss her favourite one-day race, which she won in 2016 and finished as runner-up last year.

“Kidney stone last night kept me very down and out and found myself watching the race from hospital instead of in it,” Spratt said.

“Good thing is I am ok, recovering well and will look ahead to the Euro season now.”

Spratt and Brown are likely to be in Australia’s road team for the Paris Olympics.