Annette Edmondson (Orica - AIS) claimed her first professional victory on Friday winning both the stage and as a consequence, the overall title at the Tour of Chongming Island in China.
It had been a rough and tumble few days on the bike for Edmondson, who crashed on Wednesday's opening stage but went into the third and final day six seconds behind compatriot Chloe Hosking (Hitek Products UCK) knowing that not only did she have to win the stage, but also not have Hosking or multiple world champion Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) figure in the sprint to the finish line.
"This is pretty crazy," said 21-year-old Edmondson, in her first season with the team. "It's the first time I've won a yellow jersey in this kind of tour. It's really special, but more amazing is how much my team backed me. I'm not the strongest sprinter here, but we have a strong team, and I was fastest because of them. They were brilliant all week."
Hosking turned the screws early on the stage, winning two intermediate sprints to increase her lead, meaning that the pressure was on the Orica - AIS team to deliver back-to-back victories in the wake of Melissa Hoskins overall victory in 2012.
"This is the first real opportunity I've had to work with a sprint train," said Edmondson. "I've had a couple chances in the last couple years with one or two riders, but never a full team. The main thing I've learned is to trust and believe in my team - and to be patient!
"I have a tendency to get nervous," she continued. "I made a couple of mistakes this week, but after each sprint, I had the experienced riders tell me what I need to do differently. I'm learning that making mistakes is okay as long as you learn from them. My main goal this week, well this whole year, is to learn from the riders around me who have been here before and have the experience. I need to take it all in and try to improve. That definitely happened today."
With the Hitec train upset in the final kilometre of the City Criterium, Hosking finished 12th across the line while Bronzini was fifth. The 10 bonus seconds on offer for the stage winner gave Edmondson an agonising one-second win over Hosking who took home the points classification. Stage 1 winner, Lucky Garner (Argos-Shimano) was third overall, 17 seconds back on Edmondson. The Orica - AIS celebrations continued with Emma Johansson finishing third on the stage continuing her impressive season.
"In the end, I think I had a bit of luck on my side," said Edmondson. "It was a fairytale ending."
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