Sharon Laws Fleche Wallonne 2008

Sharon Laws may have only been in the country for a few weeks but she wasted no time in staking her claim for a place in the women?s Olympic road race team by winning the Cheshire Classic two-stage race at the weekend.

The 33-year-old broke away with Halfords team mate Jessica Allen on the 80km road stage and took the sprint to secure overall victory after Sarah Storey (VC St Raphael) had won the opening time trial by eight seconds from Laws and Emma Trott (also Halfords).

The Halfords-Bikehut squad dominated the day?s proceedings, Trott and Jo Rowsell controlling the bunch as their team mates made their escape, and the orange and black-clad women taking four out of the top five overall positions.

Laws is a recent convert to road racing after a background in off-road events but has shown she is a fast learner with this victory and her second place in the Australian National Championships earlier this year. ?I only rode one road race in this country and that was a Surrey League about four years ago, before I went to Australia,? she said.

?I have never had a team before,? said Laws, ?or not until the Fleche-Wallonne, so it was a new experience for me.? The three kilometre opening stage against the clock in Cheshire was another area where Laws was starting from scratch: ?There were time trials in the Tour of Geelong and Tour of New Zealand but they are the only ones I had done before this. We are hopefully getting time trial bikes from Halfords and [manager] Julian Winn has entered me for the National 25,? she said, with a slightly nervous laugh!

Laws does not seem easily fazed, and relishes the prospect of the upcoming 10-day Tour de l?Aude in France: ?I?ve done off-road stage races before, like the Cape Epic in South Africa, and that was between five and seven hour days in the saddle. This will be shorter and faster.?

The Tour de l?Aude starts on May 16 in Gruissan, and features two time trials. Let's hope Halfords get those low-pros sorted out in time...

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