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Mayuko Hagiwara takes her first European victory in hilly Dinant race
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling's Mayuko Hagiwara took the first European victory of her career at the Championnat de Wallonie Kermesse in Foy Notre Dame, near Dinant in Southern Belgium on Sunday. The eight-time Japanese champion, resplendent in her distinctive "Hinomaru" flag jersey, escaped from a select group of riders on the last of the race's seven 12.7km laps and soloed to the finish.
Behind Hagiwara, Kaat Hannes (Lotto-Belisol) outsprinted CycleLive Plus-Zannata duo Annelies Van Doorslaer and Liz Hatch in the race for second place.
"It was small race but I'm very happy because it was my first win in Europe," said a delighted Hagiwara after the race. "I appreciate everybody who supported me and would like to say thank you to the people who supported me in the race today."
Hagiwara has played a strong supportive role to her teammates so far this season, but now hopes to build on her very first victory in Europe.
"I couldn't do a good performance for the team in the pro season, so I want to build up my condition from this win," Hagiwara said, modestly. "I want to try harder to help the team win, and want to take my chance in Europe."
With most of the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team racing in China, Hagiwara was the only member of the team to line up in Dinant, and was up against a number of strong Belgian teams. Inge Roggeman (Sengers Ladies) attacked in the lap two, and managed to open up a minute's lead but a powerful chase from Hagiwara pulled a group of riders up to the Belgian in the final lap.
In the front group with Hagiwara were Hannes, van Doorslaer and Hatch, as well as Julie Leth (Breast Cancer Care) and Belgian cyclocross champion Sanne Cant (Ciclismo Mundial) but, on the last climb of the final lap Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling's Japanese champion attacked and opened up a gap that continued to widen all the way to the finish line.
1. Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Kaat Hannes (Lotto-Belisol)
3. Annelies Van Doorslaer (CycleLive Plus-Zannata)
While Mayuko Hagiwara was winning in southern Belgium and Giorgia Bronzini was winning in China, their Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammates were also taking victories elsewhere. Australian Lauren Kitchen won the "Ladies Komtoer" in Moergestel, Netherlands, while double Olympic champion Laura Trott won the new women's race at the Elveden Estate in Suffolk, eastern England.
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12. December 98
– Pauline Courtois leads after first day