South Australian Sophie Edwards says it was a "pretty special" moment to win team ARA Skip Capital back-to-back Lochard Energy Warrnambool Women's Cycling Classics.
The Commonwealth gold medallist followed in the footsteps of last year's inaugural winner Maeve Plouffe - and former ARA teammate - in claiming the road race in a bunched sprint to the Raglan Parade finish line.
"We wanted to keep it in the team," Edwards, 22, said. "We've won the only two women's editions so far, that's pretty special."
The 170km journey from Colac lasted four hours and 33 minutes for Edwards, with 38 riders finishing within 30 seconds of the winner.
In an elite podium, Olympian Chloe Hosking was runner-up and accomplished Melbourne to Warrnambool rider Matilda Raynolds finished third.
Edwards, who won gold in the women's team pursuit at last year's Birmingham Commonwealth Games alongside Plouffe, is hopeful her recent success is a springboard for greater things.
"It was pretty cool, we got to spend a couple months in Europe before the comm games and really work on our road racing over there," she said.
"This is really our start to our season over here, we've got a bit more racing in Australia and then we're going to head over to Europe again as a team.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing, with a bit more experience, how we can go over there this year."
Raynolds, who was also third in last year's maiden women's classic, said the race went "the worst way" possible for her after riding largely as an individual and getting overtaken in the bunched sprint.
"I needed a really hard event and it was just quite easy," she said. "There was only so much I could chase and I did a few dummy chases every now and again to try and get it going but in the end I could see it consolidate and that it would come back for Chloe Hosking (Roxsolt Liv SRAM) and Chloe Moran (ARA).
"I didn't quite get that Sophie was their (ARA's) lead sprinter... in the end I was like a popped balloon in the wind, I had to go early and went early. And in a head-wind and up-hill I just couldn't hold on."
Meanwhile, Hosking said it was a bucket-list achievement to complete her first Warrny, with father Steve having ridden the event twice in the past.
"It's been on my radar for a while and it's got a bit of history in the Hosking family," she said. "Dad's ridden it twice, one time he said he didn't finish it and the other time, I think it was a hard day for him."
Raynolds, a two-time women's winner in the longer Melbourne to Warrnambool race, is steadfast in advocating for the women's classic to remain on the Melbourne to Warrnambool program.
She said it was vital the race continued to be backed, insisting it would go from strength-to-strength each year.
"I've already spoken to three little girls here on the sideline," she said. "When I was growing up I never had idols who were female.
"I think that's just so important and you never know what that is going to do for the next generation.
"This is a really important chapter for women's cycling and the Warrnambool Classic."
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