Olympic and world champion Marianne Vos completed a dominant performance to win a hugely successful inaugural Women’s Tour of Britain on Sunday.
The Dutch rider claimed a third successive stage success on the fifth and final day to seal overall victory in front of large crowds in Bury St Edmunds.
The Rabo-Liv rider, who claimed London 2012 Olympic gold ahead of Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead, won on the concluding 108km stage from Harwich – and with it 10 bonus seconds – to triumph overall by 30 seconds.
“I have won many titles before, and some gold medals, but this women’s Tour is really special because it means so much to women’s cycling,” Vos said afterwards.
“The pressure was really on but the team did such a great job to keep me in the race.
“I have good memories of Great Britain with the Olympics, but these crowds really made a difference.” Wiggle-Honda’s Giorgia Bronzini was second on the day and Vos’s comptriot Amy Pieters third, while Emma Johansson (Orica-GreenEdge) finished fifth to seal second place overall.
Third overall was Estadio de Mexico-Faren’s Rossella Ratto, who claimed the best young rider jersey for the highest-placed under-23 finisher, while Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) withdrew prior to the start of the final stage after battling illness all week.
Two-time world junior champion Lucy Garner was the best-placed Briton in seventh overall, 50 seconds behind Vos. She inherited the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research best british rider jersey yesterday morning after Armitstead withdrew and then managed to defend it from Hannah Barnes in the final sprint, despite clipping the barriers in the final corners.
“I am really proud to be wearing the best British rider jersey, especially racing on home soil, but it is a shame Lizzie couldn’t carry on because of illness,” Garner, 19, said afterwards.
“It has been amazing; the racing, the crowds and support have been beyond anything I have ever seen before.”
Double Olympic track champion Laura Trott (Wiggle-Honda) was 55th overall after a heavy crash on Friday and Saturday’s stage which began in her hometown of Cheshunt, while her sister Emma (Boels-Dolmans) was 60th overall before retiring after crossing the finish line in Suffolk.
For the second day running Lotto Belisol Ladies’ Emma Pooley was in the thick of the action, winning the Combativity Award for her constant attacking on the stage through Tendring and Suffolk.
Sharon Laws won the “Queen of the mountain” jersey, which is awarded for attaining points during designated ‘climb’ sections during each stage of the event.
The United Health Care rider led the standings from the opening day and held off the challenge of Swiss cyclist Jolanda Neff on the final stage.
“Every day was a challenge and Neff is a fantastic mountain biker so I’m really pleased to hold on and be here in this jersey,” she said.