Having dominated the women's Bay Cycling Classic for the past two years in Victoria without winning a stage, Orica-GreenEDGE rider Melissa Hoskins finally has the legitimacy she craved.
The West Australian sealed back-to-back victories in the event with a hard-fought win in the last of the three-race criterium series yesterday, beating her two rivals for the overall prize in doing so.
Hoskins took out the 2012 race without winning a stage, and had led the event going into yesterday's race at Williamstown through her consistency.
There were also whispers of possible collusion after her usual teammate Tiffany Cromwell won Wednesday's stage at Portarlington, entered as an individual, having been left off Orica- GreenEDGE's line-up.
Officials took the unusual step of speaking to riders before yesterday's stage, warning collusion between teams would not be tolerated.
But Hoskins, 21, erased any doubts about whether she deserved victory in the series, answering the challenge of both Peta Mullens and Kimberley Wells - her only two rivals for the title - in a three-way duel on the final lap.
"It's nice to be able to win a stage and not just be the most consistent rider," a frank Hoskins admitted post-race.
"It's nice to be able to show you can sprint, and not be seen as mediocre or an all-rounder. I really wanted to win a stage this year." In a thrilling last lap, Mullens attacked early, but Hoskins reeled her in and won racing away.
Anytime Fitness Trek rider Mullens was second, with Canberra-based Wells - who won the opening stage on Tuesday - third for Specialized Securitor.
Cromwell, of South Australia, won the overall sprint title.