A day ahead of the start of the 2019 Women's Tour Down Under (January 10-13), defending champion Amanda Spratt says that she's identified where she and her Mitchelton-Scott teammates will try to get the upper hand and gain time – and try to make it three overall wins in a row for the Australian. The 31-year-old pointed to Friday and Saturday – stages 2 and 3 – as the days most likely to have the biggest impact on the race, when the race finishes on Mengler Hill in the Barossa Valley and on a gradual climb up to Stirling, respectively. "I think that the Mengler Hill stage [stage 2] will be the first real GC day," Spratt told journalists at the pre-race press conference at the Hilton Adelaide on Wednesday.ADVERTISEMENT "Mengler Hill is a tough climb, but it's never just about the climb itself; it's about how hard the race is beforehand. It can be quite open there – quite windy – but a lot depends on how hard it's raced coming into the climb, and obviously we hope it's raced hard. Any race that finishes on a two-three kilometre climb like that is going to be hard, and we're going to see time differences there for sure," she said. The following day from Nairne to Stirling uses a finishing circuit based on the one that's been used a number of times by the men's race, and the winners there have often been riders who can both climb and sprint – such as Jay McCarthy and Michael Matthews – although out-and-out sprinter Caleb Ewan and true all-rounder Tom-Jelte Slagter have also won there, making it a difficult one to call. "I think that stage 3 to Stirling could possibly be the most exciting stage," Spratt said. "I think it really depends on what happens on the Mengler Hill stage, and how big the time gaps are.
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