Amanda Spratt will undergo surgery for Iliac artery endofibrosis
Amanda Spratt’s 2021 season did not go as well as she’d hoped, and as her BikeExchange team revealed in a press release on Monday, she has found the reason why. The 34-year old Australian has iliac artery endofibrosis, a health problem whose prevalence among professional cyclists has become increasingly visible in recent years. Spratt will undergo surgery this winter and already has her sights set on 2022 and even the Australian summer of cycling in 2023.
“2021 has been a pretty tough year, both physically and mentally,” Spratt said in a press release from BikeExchange. “I could feel that something wasn’t right since late on in the 2020 season but there were always other reasons or answers I could think of at the time. I would put any bad performances down to things like my bike set-up or small illnesses.
“I have been racing for so many years. I know that I am the type of rider that excels in the hardest races. When everyone starts to get tired in a tour, I only get stronger. This is one of my biggest strengths. Yet this year I noticed that I couldn’t back up each day. My performances got worse and worse and if I reached the finale of a race, my legs were the first to explode. I had bad sensations that I haven’t had before and in the end, the Tokyo Olympic Games road race was the tipping point.”
Spratt’s best result was a fourth place in the Amstel Gold Race back in April. She also landed in the top 10 in both La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. She abandoned the Giro Donne and didn’t finish the Olympic Road Race, which was one of her big goals for the season.
“In that race I had great legs. Until I didn’t. I couldn’t even push 200 watts anymore,” she said. “It was of course an event that I had been training relentlessly for. The come down after the Olympics was incredibly difficult because I just couldn’t understand what had happened or why.”
She was diagnosed with a blocked iliac artery and will undergo surgery in the specialist vascular centre in Veldhoven, the Netherlands.
“This is a significant surgery which can involve releasing the arteries along with bypassing the narrowed segment with a vein graft,” BikeExchange doctor Steve Baynes said. “It requires very careful post-operative rehabilitation and the return to full training will be after five to six months.”
Spratt was optimistic about what lies ahead following the operation.
“I know it’s a very serious surgery with a long recovery but thankfully there are many good examples of riders who have come back from it in full force,” Spratt said. “I don’t have to look far for inspiration with my current teammate Sarah Roy and former teammate Annemiek van Vleuten, having both undergone the same procedure that I will this off-season. I’ve spoken with both of them, and I know their help and guidance will benefit me hugely in the recovery period.
“During 2018 and 2019 I felt like I started to show myself and those around me what I am really capable of. This injury has made me realise that I still have so much I want to achieve in this sport. I’m not ready to give up and I already see many big goals coming up in the next few years. The Tour de France Femmes and the Wollongong World Championships are two realistic goals for me. I also can’t wait to be back racing an Australian Summer with good legs in 2023. For now, it is time to digest this diagnosis and as I prepare for my surgery.”