Spratt takes Tour lead with stage win

Amanda Spratt will successfully defend her women's Tour Down Under title after a dominating win in stage three.

Cycling star Amanda Spratt is on the verge of successfully defending her Tour Down Under title.

Cycling star Amanda Spratt is on the verge of successfully defending her Tour Down Under title.

The Australian cycling star took full advantage of strong work from her Mitchelton-Scott teammates on Saturday to have control of the race.

Sunday's last stage is a flat street race in Adelaide and, given Spratt leads by 29 seconds, only a disaster will stop her taking the overall title.

"It's so exciting and I'm still a little bit in shock (about having the lead)," Spratt said.

"I'm so grateful to the team for giving me the opportunity."

Spratt broke clear of American Lauren Stephens on the steep climb to the finish at the Adelaide Hills town of Hahndorf, beating her by seven seconds.

Stephens is second overall, while previous race leader and Spratt's former teammate Katrin Garfoot finished fourth on Saturday, one minute and 32 seconds behind.

Mitchelton-Scott worked Garfoot over after she was caught out by a split in the peloton.

NZ star Linda Villumsen broke clear by herself early in the 121.1km stage from Tailem Bend and led by five minutes.

But Spratt attacked Garfoot with about 40km left, joining Stephens in a key move that caught Villumsen well before the finish.

Villumsen, the 2015 world time trial champion, eventually finished 30th, while rising Australian star Grace Brown also unleashed a strong solo ride to take third.

Garfoot dropped to third overall and Brown improved to fifth behind new Mitchelton-Scott rider Lucy Kennedy.

Spratt said Mitchelton-Scott set the race up perfectly for her.

"Kat panicked and had to do some work. I sat on her and, as soon as she caught the group, I attacked straight away," Spratt said.

"I knew it was the perfect moment. We did exactly what we wanted, we isolated Kat and I could capitalise off that."

Spratt added she had had some tough battles with Stephens, but capitalised on last month's race research.

"I knew the finish climb would hurt like hell, but I was ready," she said.

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