"I'm sort of relieved [it's all over]," she said. "[My career] it's been long, is the best way to describe it."
Specialized-lululemon had dominated the discipline all season and the trend continued as they finished 24 seconds quicker than Orica-AIS.
Rhodes joined Judith Arndt, Shara Gillow, Loes Gunnewijk, Melissa Hoskins and Linda Villumsen in Limburg in the effort that she described as "a highlight" of her career which began a decade ago at the junior world track championships where she won gold in the individual pursuit. This year's road world titles will also be the curtain call for German veteran Arndt and so Orica-AIS was particular driven.
"We put together the best race possible as a tribute to Alexis Rhodes and Judith Arndt, our teammates for whom this was their last professional race," said team sports director Martin Barras. "I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank them both for a wonderful first season with Orica-AIS. It has been a real privilege to work as a team towards a world championship."
Rhodes was satisfied with her role in the performance on Sunday.
"Of all the races we've done this year we've always come second to Specialized so we figured second was ours to lose and first was ours to win.
"We didn't quite get there on the day but I can honestly say I gave it everything I had. Judith and Linda were awesome today and basically towed me around the course."
Rhodes joined Orica-AIS for their inaugural season and claimed her fourth Australian Criterium Championship, having previously won in 2004, 2006 and 2007. The result came off the back of six months away from the bike due to surgery on a blocked iliac artery.
Although it was something Rhodes was reluctant to dwell on publicly, the fact that she was still in the sport was remarkable given the life-threatening injuries she suffered in 2005 in the horrific accident which claimed the life of Amy Gillett in Germany and had a profound effect on an entire generation of Australian women's cycling. Rhodes sustained severe chest trauma and extensive spinal injuries and was in an induced coma for a week and returned to racing six months later.
"I'm not 'the poor girl who was injured'," Rhodes said in 2011 having won her maiden Australian Road Championship. "It wasn't so much the sympathy but I don't like making up the numbers; to be known as 'the poor girl who got hit by a car', is not what I wanted to be."
Apart from her most recent contract, Rhodes also raced with HighRoad and Garmin-Cervelo.
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