There were no stage wins for Canyon-SRAM and Elena Cecchini at the Internationale Thuringen Rundfahrt der Frauen but that didn't stop the Italian national champion from enjoying the biggest win yet of her career as she sealed the overall in Gera. The overall victory was set up by Cecchini's second place on the queen stage to Schleiz.
The 24-year-old went into the final stage of the race, won by UnitedHealthcare's Coryn Rivera, with a 3:05 minute advantage over Amanda Spratt (Orica-AIS) and while she lost time to the Australian champion she held on to claim her first professional stage race since the 2012 Trophee d'Or Feminin.
"I was a bit nervous which is normal. But on the other hand I knew that I could count on some amazing and strong teammates during this last stage today," said Cecchini of the final stage. "Ronny (Lauke) told us our strength today was to stick together, because no one in the peloton could beat the four of us if we put our energies together!"
The final day stage was an aggressive day of racing with riders looking to improve their standing or attempt to snare the stage win. A mid-race split in the peloton saw a flurry of attacks and several groups forms before the final stage-winning break of Rivera, Moniek Tenniglo (Rabo Liv), Amy Pieters (Wiggle-High5), Tatiana Guderzo (Italy), Nicole Hanselmann (Cervelo Bigla) and Rachel Neylan (Orica-AIS) formed. The quintet quickly established a two-minute lead over the chasers but inside the final 10km, the gap was coming down with Rivera and Pieters riding away to contest the win.
With teammates Lisa Brennauer and Trixi Worrack for company after the peloton split, Cecchini was kept safe in the front group and despite the aggressive racing there was no change to the top-nine on the general classification with Brennauer holding onto her eighth place.
"The team worked amazing all week, also when Alexis (Ryan) and Barbara (Guarischi) were here and we deserve this big one," said Cecchini. "We stayed together almost all of the race and they all did something special and unbelievable. This win means a lot for me and for the team. All of our hard work and team spirit has finally paid off. It's dedicated to my team mates, but also to our staff who work perfectly day and night to make our cycling life a better one."
Cecchini added in an Instagram post after the race that her victory was down to the work and performance of her Canyon-SRAM teammates.
"This was an incredible outstanding week of racing with @wmncycling teamies, so much fun,efforts and team work!," she wrote in an Instagram post. "Today my team mates worked their socks off to keep yellow jersey, and I will never thank them enough for their great support on and off the bike. Thanks to the best bombers in the world for having help me to win #ThuringenRundfahrt @barnesh93 @lisabrennauer @barbara_guarischi @alexismryan and our captain @trixiworrack_fotografie. And thanks for your support from home @alenkamialiusik @tiffanycromwell and teddy @mieke.kroeger!
"But cycling is not only legs and power, it's a lot about heart, willing and positive mind, so BIG THANKS to our fantastic staff milfy @alessandrabike @lars189 @bethduryea #Ronny #Seb #GioaliasJoachen #Andi for making our cycling life so easy and good."
Cecchini will enjoy a short break before heading to Brazil for the Rio Olympics where she will compete in the women's road race on August 7.