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Molly Clark-Oien of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, raises her hand in victory as she crosses the finish line in the women's pro race at Monday's Kwik Star Criterium.

Molly Clark-Oien took a chance Monday afternoon.

With five laps left in the Women’s Pro race, Clark-Oien sprinted to the front and began to pull away from the competition.

The gap became wider than a block as the 31-year-old cruised to her first professional win at the 53rd annual Kwik Star Criterium.

“I didn't think I'd be able to hang on,” Clark-Oien said. "About the last two laps, I looked back and I could see I had a decent gap from the rest of the pack.

"I thought I had a good shot."

Making her debut at the hilly course throughout the Village of East Davenport, the Fargo, North Dakota, native tried a similar strategy on Sunday in Muscatine in the Melon City Criterium, but was caught at the end and came away with a sixth-place finish.

On a sweltering day, Clark-Oien didn’t let history repeat itself.

“I think people were maybe a little bit more fatigued,” she said. "Today was pretty hot and they were starting to get tired, but I thought I'd just take a chance."

A ninth-place finisher at Snake Alley in Burlington on Saturday, Clark-Oien went for a $272 cash sprint with six laps remaining in the 40-minute race.

She won that, continued to stretch her lead and pocketed another $800 in first-place prize money.

Clark-Oien said she enjoys time trial runs and after the cash sprint, felt very comfortable going for it despite the heat.

“I'm going to go up there and give myself a chance,” Clark-Oien added. "I decided to go for it and kept riding hard."

Runner-up Faith Montreuil felt like someone was going to push Clark-Oien with two laps remaining.

That never came to fruition.

“I was kind of hoping somebody else would go for it,” Montreuil said. "We did try, but at that time, she was too far away so it didn't really work. None of the women wanted to work together.

"Personally, I wasn't working because I knew all I would have to do was hold on for the sprint."

Montreuil held off Ashley Weaver, who finished third.

After winning Snake Alley and a top-5 finish in Muscatine, the 16-year old who runs for Gray Goat-Bullseye Total Media, felt very confident after her first weekend as a professional cyclist.

"I am really happy," Montreuil said. "I honestly didn't think I was going to do this well the whole weekend. I'm very surprised."

Defending champion Jeannie Kuhajek placed eighth and 2016 champ Vanessa Curtis finished fifth.

For Clark-Oien, it was an ending that fit style of racing for the former steeplechase and distance runner for Augustana (South Dakota) University.

“I have the ability to push myself, by myself, without others controlling the pace,” she said. "I was just hoping for close to the same result or better."

Carmen Davidson of Andrie Junior Development Team won the Category 3/4 race.

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