Alex Manly started the day at Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour in the familiar role of domestique but, after BikeExchange-Jayco teammate Ruby Roseman-Gannon handed over the reins, Manly sprinted to her first UCI road win at Hof.
The victory for the 26 year-old was also the first in Europe this season for the squad, who has had two of its key riders in recovery mode for the early part of the year. Amanda Spratt has been working her way back to form after Iliac artery endofibrosis surgery while Kristen Faulkner started her season in late February but then was out of racing through to May as she recovered from post concussion symptoms.
It was touch and go whether the opening 101.8km stage of the 2.Pro tour would even come down to a sprint, with Parkhotel Valkenburg’s Mischa Bredewold charging toward the line solo. BikeExchange-Jayco however determinedly chased her down, making the catch close to the finish. At the same time Manly created a solid gap on the rest of the field with the power of her acceleration to take a clear-cut stage victory as well as the first leader’s jersey at the six-day Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour.
“With 4km Teniel [Campbell] and Arianna [Fidanza] went as hard as they could and spent all their energy just for me,” said Manly. “Then Ruby actually swapped roles – today she was going to sprint – but she decided I was doing good and she committed for me, probably earlier than she’d wanted to because we still had another 50 metres on the rider in front.”
“I wouldn’t have won without the team today. They were incredible.”
Manly is in her sixth season with the squad, returning after a two year hiatus to focus on the track, but while she has amassed many victories on the velodrome the fast-finishing rider has been more often found in a support role on the road. She was pivotal to Roseman-Gannon’s powerful start to the season in Australia, with her unrelenting power as a domestique helping the new BikeExchange-Jayco recruit overcome teams around her with far greater numbers.
The roles, however, were reversed in Germany on Tuesday, as Roseman-Gannon jumped into the lead out role instead.
“We had a clear objective at the start of the day, to go in with Ruby, to try and win the stage and take some bonus seconds too with an eye on the GC later in the week,” said team sport director Andrew Smith.
“Unfortunately there was a crash in the group and a few of our riders went down, and Ruby wasn’t feeling great, so they decided to switch roles and Alex was in a good position and in great condition and managed to take the win.”