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A Weekend of Success on Three Continents for Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling

Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s riders were in action all over the World this weekend, racing to glory on three continents. While much of the team was at the Energiewacht Tour, in the Netherlands, Mara Abbott took overall victory in the Redlands Classic, in California, while Nettie Edmondson was winning the Sprints Classification in the Adelaide Tour, in her native South Australia.

Arguably the nicest result for the black and orange team, however, saw Olympic Champion Dani King win the two-day Tour of the Reservoir, in Northumberland, Northern England, in her first race back from the horrific injuries she suffered in November last year.

“I was really nervous before the start of the first stage on Saturday, but I just had to get stuck in,” King said afterwards. “The first race back was always going to be the hardest, because of my confidence, but I got stuck in.”

The opening stage saw King escape the peloton with Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International), and she managed to outsprint the talented Scottish rider at the finish.

“I’ve been working on my sprint, so I wanted to take it to the finish,” King explained. “Katie attacked me a couple of times on the flat but I sat tight and managed to get her at the end.”

Sunday’s second stage saw the peloton racing under heavy rain, which turned to snow at times, but King was able – with the help of Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammate Anna Christian – to hold off the expected onslaught from her rivals. Archibald’s teammate, former Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling rider Joanna Rowsell, escaped to take the stage, but King was able to hold on to take overall victory.

“Pearl Izumi rode a really attacking race,” King said. “Between us Anna and I must have chased down about ten by the time Jo attacked. I can’t tell you how good Anna was today, she really rode her heart out for me, and then got top five overall herself!

“It was just a war of attrition in the end, the weather was horrendous! I’ve never been so cold on a bike before; when I finished I couldn’t even talk, but it felt so good to be racing my bike again. I’ve had so much inspiration from the team, it’s been an incredible few weeks, and it’s nice to keep the winning streak going for Wiggle Honda!”

Mara Abbott’s victory in the Redlands Classic was a first for the 29-year-old American after having finished second on three previous occasions. Riding for the mixed “LA Sweat” team, she took second place in the hilly stage one circuit race, kept in touch overall in the second stage time trial, then soloed to victory on the uphill finish to Oak Glen on stage, where she took the leader’s jersey as well as the stage.

“Amber Neben [Visit Dallas Cycling] set tempo up the climb starting out, which narrowed down the field a bunch,” Abbott explained. “She actually rode everyone straight off of her wheel.

“I waited a bit for a good moment and then attacked, passing Amber and finishing solo to the finish,” she added. “Because I was down in GC a bit after the time trial, and knowing that Amber is an experienced rider who could hold a strong pace, I knew that I had to go all out the entire way across the finish line.

“This was a really special victory for me because I won Oak Glen in 2007 – which was the last time that they held this stage – it was my very first professional win,” Abbott added. “It’s a cool race. It’s one of those ones where the town loves having you there. It’s a cool race.”

Abbott then held on to her overall lead in the following two stages, to beat Neben by 24 seconds, and Allie Dragoo (Twenty16-Sho-Air) by 42.

In the Netherlands, Belgian Champion Jolien D’hoore added second place in the fourth and final stage of the Energiewacht Tour to the victory she had taken in stage one. The 25-year-old outsprinted Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) from a group of seven riders, just over a minute behind the solo victory of Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) on the German island of Borkum.

“The whole tour was good for me,” D’hoore said. “I showed myself each time in the front group, so that was good. I was feeling really good; I had good legs. I had only one win, but I was there all the time, with second, fourth and fifth.”

The decisive split came early in the fourth stage, with D’hoore getting herself into the winning move of ten riders on the windy circuit race. As the only Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling rider in the group, however, she was powerless to stop van der Breggen’s attack with around 30km remaining.

“Rabobank was there with three girls, Velocio had two girls – they were defending GC – so there wasn’t much I could do to chase van der Breggen,’ D’hoore explained. “I just had to stay there, hope we could get her, and then sprint. We didn’t catch her, so it was second.

“It’s pretty nice to beat Kirsten, even though it was for second place,” she added. “It was a bit hectic, with a lot of corners in the last 200 metres, and a little uphill. I like sprints that are just straight on, but this was different.”

Marking her return to road racing, following a break after winning two titles at the UCI Track World Championships, Australian Nettie Edmondson was in action in her home city race, the four-day Adelaide Tour. Facing the fastest riders in the domestic peloton, the 23-year-old took one second place and one third, and came away with an emphatic victory in the Rezz Hotel Sprint Classification.

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