SHE was riding against professionals from across the globe in her first UCI level event, but if Emily Watts was daunted about making her debut in the Women’s Tour Down Under on Thursday it didn’t show.
At 18 years of age the Bathurst Cycling Club graduate is one of the youngest in the peloton for the four-stage event in Adelaide which opens the women’s professional road cycling calendar.
Riding for the Sydney Uni-Staminade outfit, Watts’ tour began with a 112.9 kilometre leg from Hahndorf to Birdwood. It featured three climbs along the way then a slight downhill run to the finish line.
It came down to a bunch sprint, which Letizia Paternoster won for the new Trek-Segafredo women’s team. She clocked a time of three hours, 10 minutes and 28 seconds.
Second went to the 2013 Blayney to Bathurst winner Sarah Roy (Mitchelton-Scott), while Astana’s Arlenis Sierra rounded out the podium.
“It’s a promising start,” Roy said. “I was probably too relaxed because our lead-out was so good."
Watts was not far behind as she finished with the peloton, crossing the line in 41st. She was the 12th best ranked in the young rider classification as well.
It was not the only good result for Watts’ team either with Georgia Whitehouse and Jess Pratt finishing in the top 15.
Friday’s second stage is a 116.7km leg and will be a bigger test for Watts as she makes her way from Nurioopta to the famous Mengler Hill for the finish.