Spratt crowned road cycling national champ

Shayne Hope

Defending champion Amanda Spratt's preparation for an assault on a fourth successive Tour Down Under crown this month is right on course after she claimed her third national road race title.

The 32-year-old produced a commanding display in cool conditions at Buninyong, near Ballarat, on Sunday to reassert Mitchelton-Scott's dominance of the race.

A crash in the first lap caused the peloton to splinter early as Spratt and teammate Grace Brown broke clear with Roxsalt-Attaquer's Justine Barrow.

Spratt always looked the strongest of the three, with Brown doing a mountain of work in support.

But Spratt needed several attempts to get the better of Barrow and she eventually powered away in the two-rider sprint over the final few hundred metres of the 104.4km course.

Spratt's previous wins were in 2012 and 2016, giving her three national road race titles in Olympic years.

"This one is just as special, if not more special," Spratt said.

She will target the road race in Tokyo.

Her latest triumph was Mitchelton-Scott's first since now-retired Katrin Garfoot saluted in 2017.

Mitchelton-Scott have won six of the nine women's road races since the team's inception.

"I owe my team this one. You saw how much work Grace Brown did in that break," Spratt said.

"It's unusual but I did come in here as just the sole leader for our team and it came with a lot of pressure as well.

"I'm just so grateful for the team to give me the opportunity and that I could pull it off."

Barrow finished second with Brown not far behind in third.

Jaime Gunning (Specialized Women's Racing) was eighth overall to claim the under-23 title, while last year's elite winner Sarah Gigante (Tibco-SVB) was 18th.

Mitchelton-Scott have a strong chance of completing the double in Sunday's men's road race, with 2013 champion Luke Durbridge and multiple track world champion Cameron Meyer leading the charge.

Meanwhile, Ballarat and surrounds will remain the home of the road national for at least the next three years after a deal was struck between Cycling Australia and the Victorian state government.