Yorkshire-born Lizzie Deignan yesterday won the 2017 Asda Women's Tour de Yorkshire in startling finish - attacking with 13 km left of the 122.5 kilometre race from Tadcaster to Harrogate and riding away for a solo victory.
Forming part of the lead group along with her Boels-Dolmans teammate Anna van der Breggen, she pushed hard to break away and take the win.
Dani King, also part of the lead group, was dropped minutes from the finish.
Second and third places were also hard fought for, but Deignan’s lead of around a minute proved impossible to break.
Sunweb's Coryn Rivera took second, and Giorgia Bronzini of Wiggle-High 5 third.
“The race really suited me and I knew the roads better than anyone else, so I took advantage of that," said the 28-year-old, who comes from Otley near Leeds.
“With 15km to go my Sports Director was telling me to save myself for the sprint but I knew we still had some small climbs to go. I knew it wasn’t going to come back together so I went on the attack. I didn’t dare believe I’d actually won the race until about 1km to go though because I felt like I was getting slower and slower.
“The finish was so special and so surreal, and it meant so much to me to receive such great support. It was incredible and I’m struggling to get my head around it. This is up there with the biggest wins of my career, definitely. There were a lot of big teams here and the Tour is growing into a really prestigious race.
“We don’t get crowds like this in women’s cycling very often and it was unbelievable to see so many people on the roadside. The fact that the whole race was televised live as well was really important. You’ll only see stronger and stronger women coming to this race in the future because of that, and the best riders specifically targeting this race.”
Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity said: “Lizzie did Yorkshire proud today and this will have been a hugely popular victory right across the county.
“The course made for really exciting racing and Lizzie took full advantage of it. Like she said, Yorkshire people really look out for each other and the backing they gave Lizzie really spurred her on.
“I’d like to congratulate her and all the riders of the Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire today for given us such a brilliant race.”
The victory marked 10 months since Deignan’s last spot on the podium, which had been a victory at the Aviva Women’s Tour.
Deignan, neé Armitstead, has since married Team Sky's Philip Deignan.
Deignan will now have her sights set on the five-stage 2017 Women's Tour, which will begin on Wednesday June 7 with a stage from Daventry to Kettering before its first ever London finish on Sunday June 11.
The UK's biggest professional women's race was won last year by Deignan and will also feature stages in Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Derbyshire.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.