Extremely windy conditions made stage 1 of the Ladies’ Tour of Qatar very eventful. After taking off early making the best of the tailwind, 7 riders battled it out for victory in Al Khor. Netherland’s Kirsten Wild sprinted to victory capturing the first overall leader’s Golden Jersey of this 2012 event. A perfect start for the winner of the 2009 and 2010 editions.
Stage 1: Camel Race Track-Al Khor Corniche, 97kms.
Very strong winds welcomed the 89 riders of the Ladies’ Tour of Qatar for stage 1 of the event taking off from the Camel Race Track just outside Doha. Tough but perfect conditions for the women used to windy conditions like the Dutch riders.
Just after noon, the ladies took off heading north and enjoying a strong tailwind. Rapidly several riders were dropped behind. After only 20 kilometres, 11 riders managed to break away. Shortly after there were only 7 left: title holder Van Dijk, Hosking, Worrack (all SLU), 2009 and 2010 champion Wild (NED), as well as Arndt, Gunnewijk and Rhodes (all GEW).
Behind the pack broke up into several groups and 12 women insisted on chasing including riders such as Bacaille (MCG) and Slappendel (RBW). The gap grew to 40" at the first bonus sprint (km 39.5) won by Arndt ahead of Worrack and Wild.
Meanwhile while the battle continued between the first two groups, the pack including World Champion Bronzini (DPZ) bunched up together again remaining over 5minutes adrift.
The second bonus sprint (km 61) was claimed by Wild in front of Arndt and Worrack while the first chasing group remained 1’30 adrift. After heading back south, the pace slowed down due to the head-wind and the gap between the two groups dropped to 1’10 with 25kms to go and then 55" before the final 20 kilometres.
Eventually as the front seven moved closer to the finish, the gap again increased and went from 1’25 with 10kms to go, to 1’50 5kms from the line. Victory was therefore to be decided between the leading seven ladies.
In the last kilometres Van Dijk tried her luck taking with her Gunnewijk and Wild. But the front group bunched together again for the final sprint. Kirsten Wild eventually flew to victory beating Hosking and Van Dijk to the line and claiming the first stage of this 2012 edition.
Wild will therefore be wearing the overall leader’s Golden jersey for tomorrow’s stage 2. She also leads the points’ standings while Australia’s Chloe Hosking is the best young rider and will be carrying the White jersey.
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