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Jodie Willett crosses the last river in Stage 7
Single mom victorious in stage race as she preps for worlds
Australian mountain bike team member Jodie Willett won the women's category of the Ingkerreke Commercial Red Centre MTB Enduro, a stage race run this week in Central Australia.
Brisbane-based Willett from the Flight Centre Merida mountain bike team overcame a strong finish from Canberra's Gracie Elvin while American 24-hour solo World Champion Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) came third overall.
Willett completed the five-day event held in and around Alice Springs and the MacDonnell Ranges in a total time of 15 hours, 53 minutes and 22.93 seconds with Elvin more than 10 minutes behind after winning the final two stages.
"It's fantastic for me to achieve the victory after finishing second last year," Willett said. "I think the experience of last year helped me a great deal. It was very tough and I really know why they call this the Enduro."
Willett's Flight Centre Merida teammate Adrian Jackson and 2008 Enduro winner was in contention in the men's category into the final day but faded to finish fourth overall behind 24 hour solo World Cchampion Jason English of New South Wales.
The AUS$2500 winner's cheque will go towards Willett's upcoming European campaign, which includes representing Australia at the marathon World Championships in Germany in August.
Willett, who plans to defend her Enduro title next year, only took up cycling seriously in her late 20s after injuries curtailed her recreational running.
She combines elite level mountain bike and road racing with owning a sports and remedial massage business Frixshon, studying for a commerce degree and raising her eight-year-old daughter Helica.
The single mother from Bardon in Brisbane's west, who has worked in her business with the Brisbane Lions and Queensland Reds, represented Australia at last September's cross country World Championships in Canberra.
She also won the women's race at the 2009 Flight Centre Cycle Epic in South-East Queensland.