Great Britain's Lucy Garner sprinted to her first professional victory in the opening stage of the Tour of Chongming Island in China today.
The 18-year-old Argos-Shimano rider got the better of Australian Chloe Hosking (Hitec Products-UCK) and Russian Oxana Kozonchuk in a bunch sprint at the end of a 73.4-kilometre stage in Chongbei.
Garner has impressed in her short time with the Dutch squad and this victory comes two-and-a-half weeks after she finished sixth in the Dwars door de Westhoek one-day race in Belgium, which stood as her best result of 2013 until today.
"I'm so happy that I took the win today. In the finale it was a bit hectic and l lost the wheel of my teammates, but I moved up to the front in the final kilometers and because there was a tough headwind I waited as long as possible to start sprinting," Garner told the Argos-Shimano website.
"Today everything fell into place. I feel like I've finally reached my top form these last few weeks. It is an amazing feeling to win my first race with the elite women. I had hoped for good results this season, of course, but to be given the opportunity to sprint and finish the job is incredible.
"I am privileged to be part of this team. They have given me fantastic support, with tough training and coaching. And they have always been there for me and always believed in me, so it's nice that they trust me and give me the chance to go for the win at such a young age.
"Tomorrow is another stage. I feel confident and hope to defend the leader's jersey. I am looking forward to the next few days."
Garner's sprinting ability has long been evident: she won the 2011 and 2012 junior world road race titles with an impressive kick
Team manager Jorn Knops praised the double junior world road race champion for her level-headedness in the closing kilometres, saying: "The plan was to prepare the sprint for Lucy. In the beginning the team looked after Lucy to keep her toward the front and make sure that she wouldn't waste any energy. In the finale it was pretty chaotic, and she lost the team's wheel, but she managed to stay calm and sprint to victory in the end.
"Our goal was to go for a podium spot one of these days, but Lucy's victory today is very impressive. She has already progressed a lot this season, not only physically but also tactically, and it's remarkable that she could stay so calm in a chaotic sprint like this. I am very pleased with this win."
Garner follows in the footsteps of fellow Briton Lizzie Armitstead, who won an identical stage in the race two years ago. Today her Dolmans-Boels team-mate Lucy Martin finished 16th.
Lucy Garner: Rider profile
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Nick Bull is an NCTJ qualified journalist who has written for a range of titles, as well as being a freelance writer at Beat Media Group, which provides reports for the PA Media wire which is circulated to the likes of the BBC and Eurosport. His work at Cycling Weekly predominantly dealt with professional cycling, and he now holds a role as PR & Digital Manager at SweetSpot Group, which organises the Tour of Britain.
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