Amanda Spratt said she never stopped believing she would win La Course as she held onto a precarious solo lead into the final kilometre.
The Australian launched a long-range attack 25km from the finish, riding brilliantly to hold off the chasers with a yo-yoing advantage.
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But the day ended in heartbreak for Spratt, who was passed by race winner Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) on the final short climb of the day before the peloton also surged by.
Speaking after the stage, Spratt said: “I think you always races with the belief you can get to the line and I never gave up believing until they passed me with 400 metres to go. That’s the mind-set I have, I want to just give it a go and never stop believing until they catch you.
“I was just suffering. I kept getting feedback of who was chasing and what was happening behind, but actually all I had to do was keep going as hard as I could until the finish line, that was the main thing I was focussing on.”
The 2019 edition of La Course offered was a thrilling watch, despite still only being a one-day race after being knocked down from two days in 2017.
Spratt attacked a select group of favourites with 25km, with a group of 30 or so riders prepared to chase behind over laps of the men’s course for the Tour de France stage 13 time trial.
After pulling out a gap on the undulating course, Spratt entered 15km to go with a gap of around 30 seconds, but that dropped rapidly before extending out once more.
Heading into the last steep slope in the final kilometre, Spratt held just 10 seconds over the chasers and the attack from Vos was the final nail.
Spratt added: “We came here knowing Marianne Vos is favourite, so we wanted to create a situation where she was under pressure and I think that’s what it created.
“I knew when it was only 10 seconds it would be hard, especially with that final kick before the line that was pretty much made for Marianne. I’m happy with my ride.
“I was a bit disappointed for sure. I believed I could win in that situation so of course there’s a bit of disappointment but I’m just proud of the way I raced. I wouldn’t change anything.”
Mitchelton-Scott opted for a dual leadership opportunity, sending Spratt on a long-range attack as she felt her legs were lacking on the day, while Annemiek van Vleuten waited to pounce if Spratt was caught.
Van Vleuten was Mitchelton’s best-placed finisher in seventh, seven seconds behind Vos, while Spratt finished 24th, 14 seconds behind the winner.