A DELIGHTED Lizzie Deignan described her epic win in the ASDA Women’s Tour de Yorkshire as “up there” with the best of her career.
The former world champion thrilled a huge crowd in Harrogate with a solo victory after pulling clear late in the race.
Deignan had also attacked last year, in the race from her home town of Otley, but was caught by the peloton before the finish in Doncaster.
This time there was no stopping the home favourite as she completed the 122.5km course in three hours, nine minutes and 36 seconds, 55 seconds ahead of runner-up Coryn Rivera, of Team Sunweb.
Wiggle High 5’s Giorgia Bronzini was third in the same time.
An emotional Deignan, of the Boels Dolmans team, said: “It was incredible.
“We knew we had to make it a tough race and it pretty much went to plan tactically. We sent Amy [Pieters] up the road in a breakaway and me and Anna [van der Breggen] jumped across to her and we knew from that point we had the race in our hands.
“The whole team was fantastic.”
Deignan was in an eight-strong group which broke away after the Cote de Lofthouse split the pack around 60km from the finish.
She, van der Breggen and Dani King moved ahead before the Yorkshirewoman made the decisive move with around 14kms remaining.
The 28-year-old revealed she went against orders late on.
“The chase group was coming pretty close and my director actually said wait for the sprint, you are coming back,” she reported..
“I thought I no I am not going to wait for the sprint. I know the roads better than you and it’s not coming back.”
The race, which started in Tadcaster, captivated thousands of fans on the roadside and Deignan described the reception from spectators as “special and surreal”.
She added. “I can’t get my head around how many people came out to support us, it was really, really good.”
Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity said: “Lizzie did Yorkshire proud today and this will have been a hugely popular victory right across the county.
“The course made for really exciting racing and Lizzie took full advantage of it. Yorkshire people really look out for each other and the backing they gave Lizzie really spurred her on."
Deignan’s triumph meant she was awarded the blue winner’s jersey and she also topped the points classification, while her Boels Dolmans squad were best team.
Wiggle High5 rider Claudia Lichtenberg was awarded Queen of the Mountain after cresting the Côte de Lofthouse in first place.