Kristabel Doebel-Hickok has already made the most of her transfer from Cylance Pro Cycling to Rally UHC for 2019, starting her inaugural season at the US UCI women's team with a podium finish during stage 2 at the Women's Tour Down Under in Australia.
Two-time and defending Tour Down Under champion Amanda Spratt won the race's queen stage on Friday afternoon after breaking away on the day's final climb up Mengler Hill. Her Mitchelton-Scott teammate Lucy Kennedy took second place on the stage, with Doebel-Hickok in third.
Spratt, having been set up perfectly by her team, was the first to make her move on the final climb. She quickly distanced the reduced group to forge on solo to the win. Kennedy crossed the line 39 seconds behind, and Doebel-Hickok was a further six seconds back.
“It’s a huge relief and an amazing feeling to start the season with Rally UHC Cycling out with a bang,” Doebel-Hickok said in an interview published on the team's website. “I decided to risk it all and go early on the climb and it worked out. It’s better to try and fail than stay in my comfort zone.
“The team rode brilliantly,” Doebel-Hickok said of the Rally UHC Tour Down Under roster, which also includes Sara Bergen, Gillian Ellsay, Heidi Franz, Abigail Mickey and Summer Moak.
“I went into the final climb with no excuses," Doebel-Hickok said. "I didn’t have to waste energy positioning, I always had food and bottles, and I had the privilege of knowing all my teammates had done their best to make a team result possible.”
Spratt now leads Kennedy in the overall by 43 seconds, with Double-Hickok another eight seconds back in third. Doebel-Hickok said Rally UHC will take a few moments to celebrate before focusing on the final two stages and maintaining her general classification spot.
"We can enjoy this moment and carry the positive energy into the following stages and fight for an overall podium," she said.
Saturday’s 104km stage to Stirling features three climbs and an uphill drag to the finish. Rally UHC will ride to protect Doebel-Hickok’s position while also going for a result in the sprint finish with Bergen, the Canadian criterium champion.
Sunday's concluding 46km criterium takes place on the same course in Adelaide as the men's People's Choice Classic later in the day.