Spratty in the mountains, Amber on mechanics & more tweetery - Giro Rosa Stage 6 rider reactions

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Throughout the race I'm having daily Q&As with ORICA-AIS riders, and after the mountainous Stage 6 it was Amanda Spratt's turn agian! I also have a round-up of the best post-climbing rider tweets, and will have a video review of the stage from pro-rider Amber Pierce. Remember, if you have questions for ORICA, ask me and I'll pass them on!

Amanda Spratt

Spratty has been giving us regular updates throughout the race - after Stage 2, when she revealed her deepest secret and after Stage 4, telling us what her team-mates really think of her (she's the wise one, apparently!). But how was she dealing with the mountains? We'd seen her grinning on tv out in the Stage 5 breakaway, but was she still smiling?

PdC: You've just finished your second day in the mountains - congratulations!

Spratty: Oh gosh, yes, and the legs are feeling it, I must say!

It was another really fast stage. It started in the valley, descending down, and there were a couple of early little climbs that I really felt - they weren't much, really, but you could feel them after yesterday!

PdC: Oh, it looked all downhill, and then all flat for most of the race on the profile

Spratty: I know, we thought the same! But driving to the accommodation last night we drove up the route, and we realised there were... I shouldn't really call them climbs, but on day 6, they were mountains! In reality, they were probably pimples, but they felt like a lot to my legs!

And it was fast - everyone wanted to get ahead to help their General Classification rider, and to get to the mountain first. For the first 80k we were averaging 44k an hour. It was really fast, and then there was a mountain for the finish!.

Actually, I'm a bit bitter about that. We did the climb as a recon - because we only live about 50k away, we came down to have a look, but the way we went up was the easier, more major road, so the way we raced up today was a bit steeper. I'm feeling a bit of anger towards Dave, our DS about that! [laughs] We still have to climb the same amount, but it felt different!

I tried to hang in there for Tiff [Cromwell] and Shara [Gillow] - it flattened out halfway up and I wanted to be there to help for that flatter section. But it was hard! I had to let the mountain goats do their thing.

PdC: On Stage 5 you were out in that early breakaway - what was your aim there?

Spratty: It was to help the GC riders, Tiff and Shara. Having me up the road had taken the pressure off the team, so they could sit back and follow in the early hills, and then if the group had got to the climb with a couple of minutes, I would have been further up and been able to help them a bit when they reached me. But Team USA wasn't happy with us out there, even though they had a rider in there too. The break was controlled from behind, so we knew it wasn't going to stay.

PdC: Is it frustrating, when you know the break is doomed like that?

Spratty: Not really, because I still know I'm doing my job, and that the teams in the bunch are having to work hard to keep it under control. I know I'm never going to be the first one up the top of a mountain, and there are plenty of team-mates in the break to help.

PdC: One of the moments I liked best from the stage was passing through Elisa Longo Borghini's village, and seeing how the peloton were saluting her from the road. How did it felt to you?

Spratty: That was really special, actually. She'd said beforehand that she would be there, so coming in, all of Hitec got on the front, and they were all waving and smiling, and we saw her waving back and cheering. We felt so bad for her, because she'd really been targeting this race, and she'd been going really well, she was on excellent form before her crash, and she's such a well-respected rider in the peloton. It was a good moment.

PdC: At that point, Loes Gunnewijk was out in the break - it was her turn today!

Spratty: Yeah! Once we started that final climb, with 11-12k to go, we started catching the break. Actually, Loes was one of the last two or three to be caught. We caught them two or three kilometres into the climb, but USA still weren't really happy to let them go, so we caught them.

PdC: That climb looked different to Stage 5 - some flat bits to get your breath back

Spratty: On yesterday's climb we didn't get much rest at all, today was different, but the last few ks were some of the hardest. You got to them and looked up to see where you still needed to go, and wanted to have a little bit of a cry!

PdC: How were you going on the climb this time?

Spratty: I got to about 5k to go and realised I wasn't going to get up to the front at that point, so the last 5k were about getting myself to the finish at my own pace. I had had a crash in Spain, so I was a bit unsure how I'd do in the Giro, so it was good to see the form coming up well.

PdC: And with races like the Tour de l'Aude being cancelled, you don't have any other long Tours on the calendar any more, especially not climbing Tours, so it must be hard to know how well you'll race - it's like your one opportunity.

Spratty: Exactly! I did Luxembourg, but that's only three days, and one of them a very short TT, so really, the Giro was my first real Tour of the year.

PdC: Now, I do have a question for you, from twitter, from someone you might know.... Someone called Valentina Scandolara! She wanted to know where your break with her was!

Spratty: [laughs] Vale! I know! it's a bit of an ongoing joke between her and I, that we always seem to find ourselves off the front together. Whatever the race is, if we're both there, we end up in a breakaway! And yesterday we ended up in the same group on the climb - but I let the partnership down today.

PdC: I said on twitter that Vale's attacked in every stage so far - and she said that she loves it but she wants to be attacking the finish-line. I suggested she might do that in the ITT!

Spratty: Yeah, yeah! Attack in the ITT and you definitely cross the finish-line first!

PdC: So how does it feel with only two stages left, a sprint and the ITT - do you feel like you've done your job and can relax now?

Spratty: No, not at all, no! Tomorrow will be pancake-flat and there's good potential for a bunch sprint, and we have Mel [Hoskins] and I form part of her lead-out. And it could be an opportunistic day, too, there could easily be a break up the road, and that's where I come into play.

PdC: Or if could be like Stage 5 last year, where everyone thought it would be a bunch sprint, until Tiffany had that 100km solo breakaway and won the stage

Spratty: EXACTLY! We still joke about that Tiffattack!

PdC: That was so much fun - the sprint teams looking to Rabobank to chase, and Rabobank refusing to work, and suddenly Tiff was twelve minutes ahead and the virtual maglia rosa!

Spratty: Exactly! It was like everyone else was looking at each other, and all of a sudden she was gone!

PdC: How did that feel? Were ORICA all laughing at the other teams?

Spratty: Not laughing - we were sort of feeling sorry for her, up by herself for all that time, that really sucks. And then we started to see that she could win, and it was really cool, and we were looking at the other teams' stand-off, and then we were laughing!

But with two stages to go, I don't count my chickens. In a Tour, you're always ticking off the little things, dividing it down, so now we've done the mountains, but it's not over 'til it's over. I know we can celebrate on Sunday night when it's finished, but all the focus is on the next two days.

PdC: So my final question today, while you're still feeling the climbs - what is it you love about cycling?

Spratty: I dunno, I just LOVE riding my bike, and the feeling of freedom it gives you, and seeing the world, especially as an Australian, getting to race all over Europe and see the world. And pushing myself all the time, and the team-work, everything about riding in a team - having fun, meeting people - everything!

***

If you have any questions for Spratty after Stage 8, or her ORICA team-mate Jess Maclean after Stage 7, ask me in the comments, or on twitter. For more ORICA Stage 6 views, read their team race report, and the blogs from Gracie Elvin and Tiffany Cromwell - and make sure you're following Spratty on twitter.

***

Amber Pierce

Amber isn't racing the Giro this year, but she's been giving us regular video updates, talking about the thinking behind the tactics, and today about Luperini's disqualification, and the relationship between mechanics and riders.

Amber Pierce reviews Giro Rosa Stage 6 (via prowomenscycling)


***

Twitter rider reactions

As with yesterday, one of the best things about mountain days are when the riders who were suffering get back to their phones and tell us how they are feeling. Here are some of my favourite Stage 6 tweets:

To follow riders in the race I have a twitter list of accounts from the peloton - and if you see anything you like, add it to them comments!

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