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Sunday Herald Sun - - Sport -

AMANDA Spratt is just 42.5km away from a third con­sec­u­tive Women’s Tour Down Un­der ti­tle af­ter her team Mitchel­ton-Scott dom­i­nated the third stage to Stir­ling yes­ter­day.

Re­cruit and newly crowned na­tional time trial cham­pion Grace Brown won the 104km stage from Nairne in the Ade­laide Hills from Trek-Se­gafredo’s Ruth Win­der and UniSA’s Rachel Ney­lan, as Mitchel­ton-Scott filled three of the top five plac­ings — in­clud­ing Spratt, who re­tained the ochre jer­sey.

With a 49-sec­ond over­all lead from team­mate Lucy Kennedy, all Spratt has to do is fin­ish to­day’s cri­terium in the city’s east end to se­cure an­other TDU vic­tory.

But yes­ter­day be­longed to 26-yearold Brown, who at­tacked on the up­hill fin­ish in Stir­ling and won by two sec­onds af­ter do­ing a power of work for her team.

“It was the team plan for me and Gra­cie (Elvin) to have a go in the fi­nal here and it’s re­ally awe­some af­ter all the hard work that I get a vic­tory my­self,” Brown said.

“It was a re­ally hard day ac­tu­ally, much harder than I was ex­pect­ing.

“I think my legs are feel­ing it from the past two days and there was a lit­tle bit of doubt, es­pe­cially af­ter the neu­tral­i­sa­tion, I felt a bit dead. But I think ev­ery­one felt it.

“I have got fam­ily and friends here watch­ing so it’s re­ally cool to do that in front of them.”

There was drama in­side the fi­nal 12km when the bunch went the wrong way and the race was neu­tralised be­fore the pelo­ton re­grouped for a sprint fin­ish.

TDU race di­rec­tor Mike Tur­tur — who is not re­spon­si­ble for the women’s tour — said the sit­u­a­tion was man­aged as best as pos­si­ble.

“It’s an or­gan­iser’s worst night­mare,” Tur­tur said. “It’s hap­pened to us pre­vi­ously, many years ago. It hap­pened on the (Cadel) Evans race a cou­ple of years back … it’s one of those things.

“It’s un­for­tu­nate, (but) it’s nor­mally dealt with in a way that no one is dis­ad­van­taged, so I’m sure that hap­pened to­day.”

Spratt, who won a sil­ver medal in the world cham­pi­onship road race last year, said she was thrilled for Brown to win the stage and was hop­ing for smooth sail­ing on to­day’s fi­nal stage.

“Most of the stage they (team­mates) were con­trol­ling it and mak­ing sure noth­ing dan­ger­ous got up the road, which was per­fect,” she said.

“Then we said in the fi­nal we re­ally wanted to work for Grace and Gra­cie and ac­tu­ally Grace had al­ready done a mon­ster amount of work on the front in that fi­nal 10km and just never died in the lead-out.

“Grace has been so strong in all of the races so far and such a great team­mate so I am re­ally happy for her.”

Spratt sur­vived a scare in the fi­nal stage cri­terium last year when she crashed but didn’t lose any time and man­aged to de­fend the leader’s jer­sey. [email protected]

Grace Brown cel­e­brates her vic­tory in Stage 3 of the Women’s Tour Down Un­der from Nairne to Stir­ling. Pic­ture: GETTY IM­AGES

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