Former world champion Emily Nelson declared herself “shocked” after claiming victory in an eventful Women’s CiCLE Classic in Melton on Sunday.
Nelson, who rides for the RST/Cycle Division Racing Team, had set herself a target of just finishing the fourth edition of the event after a puncture forced her to withdraw last year.
The race doubled up as round three of the women’s HSBC UK National Road Series, and had to be shortened from 105km to 70km after a delay caused by a crash within the first kilometre.
Nelson, a former world madison champion, said: “I’m so happy! I came to this race hoping to just get through it – it’s such a prestigious race.
“I raced in it last year and punctured so didn’t actually finish. My whole goal was to finish so, to finish first, I’m pretty shocked.”
Once action was under way, the renowned course did not disappoint with rain making the second off-road sector tougher than ever.
A large field remained intact until the Sherrard Street finish with Nelson outsprinting a pack of five including runner-up Rebecca Durrell, the first-ever winner in 2016, and third-placed Elizabeth Bennett.
The top 19 all came in within 12 seconds of the winner, while 49 of the original field completed the race.
Nelson added: “I just tried to stay in the top five or top 10 and try to follow some of the riders I know are really good off road, cyclo-cross riders and mountain bikers.
“I was just trying to pick their wheels and follow them.”
Earlier in the day, Samuel Watson (Fensham Howes – MAS Design) won the sixth edition of the Junior Men’s CiCLE Classic in a time of 2hr 26min 12secs.
He outsprinted King of the Bergs winner Oliver Stockwell (Team Ribble) at the finish, with Alfred George (Discovery Junior Cycling Club) completing the podium 17 seconds back.
* More reports and photos to follow