Californian Katie Hall (UnitedHealthcare) was overjoyed after the final stage of the Amgen Women's Race on Saturday when she could celebrate her overall win in front of a hometown crowd in Sacramento.
Hall had been the race leader in 2015 and 2017, too, but didn't win the overall on those occasions. Her relief and happiness were palpable when she spoke to Cyclingnews after the race.
"I'm just so happy. This is the biggest win of my career yet. I feel I was on a roll coming into it, but this was the one I was really focussed on this spring. Now it's over, and we won, that's just awesome. This is the third year that I have worn the yellow jersey, but the first year that I've managed to keep it. I've been working on this win for a couple of years now, and it feels really good to get to go home with the win."
Hall's UnitedHealthcare team controlled the final circuit race with aplomb, kept their leader safe in the yellow jersey, and could also celebrate winning the team classification.
"This is a really big win for us because we're a domestic American team, and there are a bunch of European teams here. I'm amazed by my team every single day, every race I've done. I have some strengths, but they make up for all of my weaknesses and look out for me. I couldn't do it without them. And I'm so glad that we all got to celebrate on the podium as best team."
After she finished third overall last year, Arlenis Sierra (Astana Women's Team) was one of the riders to watch in the 2018 edition. But the Cuban was struggling with a tooth infection during the race and had to fight to stay in the race on the first stages before winning the sprint on stage 3.
"I really have to thank my teammate Sofia Bertizzolo and the rest of the team for their help. A rider crashed into my wheel on the first stage, and yesterday was very hard for me as well. I felt like I wasn't going to finish, so now I'm very happy to have won the final stage."
Alexis Ryan (Canyon-SRAM) led the sprint for a long time only to get pipped by Sierra on the line. The 23-year-old learned from stage 1 when she finished fourth and launched a long sprint.
"I really wanted to win, and I was so close to winning, so it's a bit disappointing. Trixi Worrack pulled until 200 metres to go. I knew from stage 1 that I needed to start earlier because I needed to get up to speed and hold it. A 200-metre sprint might be long for some people, but it was perfect for me. It's just that Sierra had a better kick at the end."