PRE-RACE favourite Ruth Corset (Holden Cycling) climbed her way into the Mersey Valley Tour leader's jersey with victory in stage 2 of the National Road Series event at Sheffield yesterday.
Just 24 hours after finishing third in the opening stage time trial, Corset's pre-planned attack at the foot of the final climb of the 80.5km stage worked perfectly.
Corset claimed the stage by 10 seconds over Tessa Fabry (VIS), with 16-year-old Anna-Leeza Hull (Racing Kangaroos) catapulting herself into NRS stardom as one of the youngest to ever find a NRS podium, just 18 seconds behind Corset.
``It was a tough day, but I wouldn't have been able to do it with out my teammates,'' said Corset, the 2012 NRS champion.
``We had planned to keep it together until the final climb, and for me to be as fresh as possible at this point and for me to attack there.
``My team did such a great job to get me there.''
Perfect conditions greeted the 43-rider field for the lumpy 80.5km stage, which began in the town of Sheffield at the foot of Mount Roland.
The peloton was treated to some of the most spectacular scenery seen in the NRS, with picturesque rolling hills of the region disguising the two tough laps of the Weegena loop, which featured the Queen of the Mountain (QOM) climb.
After 20 kilometres, Sydney's Lisa Antill (Boss Racing) saw an opportunity to break clear of the peloton midway up the first QOM climb.
With no urgency shown from the peloton, Antill managed to stay clear from the main bunch for 60 kilometres, establishing a lead of almost two minutes as she amassed QOM points, which saw her take the climber's jersey. After a litany of attacks shortly after the second QOM climb failed to stick, Corset broke away and caught Antill at the foot of the final five-kilometre climb, before powering to a solo victory.
``We knew that Lisa [Antill] was two minutes down on GC, so if we could see her, we weren't too worried,'' Corset explained.
``But later, my team mates got on the front, and we kept the attacks under control. [My team] was fantastic today.
``It is great now being in yellow heading into the last day. ``I am pretty confident my teammates will give everything and work together just as well tomorrow,'' added Corset, who now holds a 10-second lead in the Tour standings over Fabry.
Tasmania's Macey Stewart finished 24th, four minutes and 38 seconds behind the winner with Lauren Perr 28th (+5.45).
In the under-19 men's event, Victorian Lucas Hamilton took the win by 29 seconds over Friday's time trial opening stage winner Michael Storer (WA).
Tasmanians Hamish Youl and Gerald Evans were 24th and 28th.
The tour concludes today with 74.8 km road stage, which begins in Ulverstone and takes riders through Gunns Plains.