EMILY Watts proved herself to be one of Australia’s best emerging cycling talents on Sunday as the Women’s Tour Down Under drew to a close in Adelaide’s city centre.
Tackling a 42.5km criterium to finish the four-stage event, the Bathurst Cycling Club product not only handled the hot tempo to finish, but was the 10th of the young rider classification riders to cross the line.
The stage win went to Chloe Hosking in 1:03.37, Watts stopping the clock nine seconds later as she placed 43rd.
Amanda Spratt was crowned the overall tour victor.
As one of the youngest members of the peloton, that Watts finished the tour was an achievement in itself.
Backing up after competing at the National Road Championships the week previous, Watts faced plenty challenges as she represented Sydney Uni-Staminade.
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Riding in a World Tour event for the first time, the speed of the peloton and distances she covered were a step up from any previous experience.
On Friday the mercury nudged 40 degrees, she had to keep her composure during a bike change and endured a brutal climb up Mengler’s Hill.
Saturday’s penultimate 104.5km leg from Nairne to Stirling was a tough too.
Grace Brown took the honours in 3:01.07, Watts crossing the line 1:45 later in 68th position.
“There were a few opportunistic attacks off the front, but in the end it was the technical and slightly uphill circuit around Aldgate that decimated the peloton and left gaps in the field,” her team said of the stage.
But Watts handled all those tests to reach the finish.
From the starter’s gun on Sunday it was Watts’ Sydney Uni-Staminade team which attacked first.
It saw the pace for the first of 25 laps of the 1.7km course clocked at a hot 52km/hr.
There were more attacks from Watts’ outfit as the stage unfolded, the 18-year-old spending a bulk of the distance positioned in the middle of the peloton.
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Though she got shuffled further back in the final lap, she placed in the top 50 for a stage for the second time.
Aside from competing, Watts got to enjoy a much more relaxed moment on her bike during the tour. It came on Saturday evening during the team presentation.
The talented teenager and her Sydney Uni-Staminade team-mates were presented to a big crowd in the Adelaide city centre. It was a moment she will not soon forget.
“We had our team presentation at the Tour Village last night, such an experience, what a week,” she said.
“Going back to normal life and school will be so hard after this.”