The rise of Emily Collins (Wiggle Honda) continued over the weekend with the young New Zealand rider taking out the Omloop het van Hageland for the biggest win of her career so far.
In a bunch sprint to the finish, the 22-year-old topped Shelly Olds [TIBCO To the Top] and an in-form Emma Johansson [Orica-AIS] who had led a dangerous breakaway attempt in the closing kilometres of the 122km race.
Collins held her nerve, following the wheels of the chase mounted by the team of Specialized-lululemon, to eventually edge out her rivals on the line.
"I really didn't have a clue what was happening out there," the Collins explained. "I was following Specialized-lululemon's train. I was lucky to come out of the wheel when it came out apart. I am really shocked to win my first UCI race. I didn't feel too good the whole race so I didn't expected this. It's the first win of our team and my teammates did a tremendous job today.
The win by Collins is the first for the new team, with Wiggle Honda’s only other result of the season so far coming with a third place for former road world champion, Gorgia Bronzini on Stage 3 of the Ladies Tour of Qatar. Rochelle Gilmore, who both rides on the team and owns the team said she was not surprised that Collins won.
Collins gave a hint of her form at last week's Le Samyn Des Dames, winning the sprint jersey and rounding out the top 10 across the finish line.
"I noticed Emily's talent in Europe late last year and I put a lot of effort into providing Emily with the environment she would need in order to reach her potential," Gilmore said. "Emily needed a team that believed in her and I certainly did.
"The other members of the team have played a huge part in setting Emily up for her first international win! Simon [Cope - directeur sportif] is a very smart operator and is very involved with his athletes and knows how to get the best out of them. The team quietly expected Emily to land on the podium today but to see her on top this early in the season is sensational! I must admit, I was fighting the tears after speaking with Emily after the finish. She is a very quiet achiever and an absolute pleasure to have on the team."
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