Kendall Ryan (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank) made her dreams come true when she crossed the line first after a rough-and-tumble stage 1 sprint at the Amgen Women's Race in Elk Grove on Thursday. After the race, the American was overcome with emotion and wiped tears from her eyes during the post-race interview with Cyclingnews.
"It's my first time in yellow, or in any jersey actually. It's a super-emotional day for me and a huge win for our team," she said. "I can't believe that I've won a WorldTour race. That's been at the top of my list for a long time now, so I'm just really happy to pull it off. I'm speechless. It's blowing my mind right now."
The California-based team protected their sprinter well during the stage, keeping her fresh for the final. "We were really patient all day, staying near the front, out of trouble and out of the wind. I was just conserving energy for the finish, my teammates gave every ounce of energy to keep me up there. I told myself to just be patient."
In the sprint, Ryan profited from the slipstream of Emma White (Rally Cycling) who opened her sprint early. "All the trains blew up coming into the final kilometre, and then it was just the sprinters left. I wiggled my way through and went early when I saw Emma White on my left. I got a slingshot off her wheel, and I held it to the line."
Ryan's sister Alexis, who races for Canyon-SRAM, finished fourth in the stage, and the rest of the Ryan family was at the finish as well, making the victory even more special for Ryan. "Winning a stage here in my home state, and with my family at the race too, that's really exciting. My dad is here, my brother is here, they brought our dog George. It was a really cool moment for me."
White was passed by Ryan on the final metres, but held on to second place. She said that the final was chaotic, and that her early sprint was a spur-of-the-moment decision.
"It was chaos from 10 kilometres out, so much of it was just about staying safe. Everybody was in and out, swerving everywhere. My teammates positioned me really well into the last kilometre and a half. Once we hit the straight, there were just people going everywhere. I had to improvise and ended up going really early. That was much earlier than I probably should have, but I was able to hold on to second, so I'm happy with that."
Annette Edmondson (Wiggle High5) rounded out the podium in third place. The headwind spoiled the Australian's hopes for a better result on the finishing straight.
"It was pretty hectic out there, like we expected. We weren't sure if the wind was going to break it up, but it didn't. None of the sprint teams wanted a break to get too far ahead, so it came down to a big bunch kick. With two kilometres to go, I decided to jump on the back of the Sunweb train. They kind of left a little bit too late, and Coryn was forced to head out too early. That worked out well for me because I got a bit of a lead-out, but the headwind was pretty strong, and I just ran out of legs, so I have to be happy with third."
The Amgen Women's Race continues with a 108-kilometre stage 2 around South Lake Tahoe on Friday.
Listen to Ryan speak about her victory in the latest Voxwomen video below.