Australian cycling star Amanda Spratt will make a shock return to racing in Adelaide this month as she recovers from major surgery.
- Spratt was a favorite for medals in Tokyo but failed to finish due to the debilitating condition which is common among cyclists
- She was expected to take several months to recover from the operation, but she will make a surprising comeback at the Australian road race later this month.
- The Santos Festival of Cycling replaces the Tour Down Under, which Spratt has won three times
Spratt entered the Santos Festival of Cycling, the national replacement for the international Tour Down Under.
In October, the 34-year-old underwent surgery in the Netherlands to repair iliac artery endofibrosis, a rare condition that has affected several top cyclists.
The condition, which ruined his Tokyo Olympics campaign, causes restricted blood flow to leg muscles during training and racing.
Spratt has to wait five or six months to get back to his peak state, but his rehabilitation has gone well.
She spoke to Dutch star and former teammate Annemiek van Vleuten, who made a successful comeback from the same operation.
“I obviously wouldn’t raise my hand and say I want to run unless I was ready to,” she said.
“It’s just a chance to break training and rehabilitation.”
Spratt has won the Tour Down less than three times, but his Jan. 23-26 race in Adelaide will be more of a high-intensity workout than a pursuit of results.
“Everyone knows I’m a racer and I love being with the team,” the BikeExchange-Jayco star said.
“It’s just a chance to get some intensity back in my legs. We will always take a cautious approach in the European season.”
But his return is also a sure sign that the surgery and rehabilitation went well.
Spratt appreciates the reaction from people who didn’t expect her to return until the end of the European season.
“It was fun – actually a couple of people messaged me and said they heard I was doing the road nationals on Sunday,” she said.
“I assured them that I was definitely not ready for the Mount Buninyong towers.
“I’ll be watching this from the comfort of my couch while everyone suffers.”
Immediately after the operation, Spratt had a nine-week period where she couldn’t raise her heart rate above 100.
She said her only setback had been a slight hamstring over the past month.
“I’m really happy – I have to say everything went well, rehabilitation,” Spratt said.
“It was a lesson in patience and I also realized it was a time when I shouldn’t be too stubborn.
“It’s not how I’ve always been. I really want to push myself… I’m sure I’ve been driving people crazy in the last few weeks when I felt really good”
Spratt added that she has a strong support team around her.
“It was a very serious operation – I was opened in four places,” she said.
“They were replacing an artery with a vein in the leg. There are obviously risks as well.
“From the day I was in the hospital, throughout the process I had this support network, which helped me stay calm and look forward.”