Battle expected between Italy and Netherlands in Women’s Tour of Qatar
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Battle expected between Italy and Netherlands in Women’s Tour of Qatar

by Ben Atkins at 2:52 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Qatar
Three teams apiece for the two big nations in windy desert race

ellen van dijkWith three invited teams apiece, Italy and the Netherlands are poised to do battle once more in the Ladies’ Tour of Qatar, which kicks off the 2012 UCI women’s calendar on Wednesday. Having taken every one of the three editions of the Middle Eastern race to date – through Kirsten Wild (2009 and 2010) and Ellen van Dijk (2011) – the Dutch will fancy their chances for a fourth title, across the flat, windy parcours.

The Italians are bringing the race’s top stage winner though, in World champion Giorgia Bronzini, and she will be looking to improve on her two second places in the race; both of which were behind Wild.

Van Dijk returns to the race as part of the new Specialized-lululemon team, which is almost identical to the HTC-Highroad team that she raced for last year. There are three further Dutch teams, with van Dijk’s former teammate Adrie Visser at the head of the expanded Skil-1t4i team and Wild leading the Netherlands national team; the new Rabobank team will be without World number one Marianne Vos, who defends her cyclocross World title this weekend, but will be led by powerful rouleur Iris Slappendel.

Bronzini’s big target for the spring is to reclaim her World Points race title on the track in Melbourne, Australia, in early April, but the fast, flat stages in Qatar will do her track speed no harm at all. The World champion missed out on a stage victory in last year’s edition, taking two second places, and will want to put that right this time at the head of her new Diadora-Pasta Zara team.

One of those to defeat Bronzini in last year’s race was her lead out woman from Copenhagen, Monia Baccaille, and the two-time Italian champion will be out to repeat, or better that, with the strong MCipollini-Giambenini team behind her; Current tricolore Noemi Cantele will lead the Italian national team.

With the race almost certain to be dominated by the sprinters, Rochelle Gilmore (Faren Honda) – who won the first stage of last year’s race – will be keen to have her say; Shelley Olds is set to make her second appearance in the event, at the head of the United States national team, and will be hoping to improve on her best finish of 13th in 2010.

Many teams though – and many of the sport’s biggest names – will be at the race to build their form for the upcoming European campaign; World time trial champion Judith Arndt will lead the new GreenEDGE-AIS team.

2012 Ladies’ Tour of Qatar: invited teams and leading riders

German National Team (GER): Madeleine Sandig (Ger)
Team Specialized Lululemon (SLU): Ellen van Dijk (Hol)

Greenedge - AIS (GEW): Judith Arndt (Ger)

Lotto Belisol Ladies (LBL): Cherise Taylor (RSA)
Topsport Vlaanderen-Ridley 2012 (VLL): Latoya Brulee (Bel)

USA National Team (USA): Shelley Olds (USA)

French National Team (FRA): Melodie Lesueur (Fra)

China Chongming-Giant (GPC): Xin Liu (Chn)

Italian National Team (ITA): Noemi Cantele (Ita)
Diadora-Pasta Zara (DPZ): Giorgia Bronzini (Ita)
MCipollini Giambenini (MCG): Monia Baccaille (Ita)

Hitec Products-UCK (HPU): Lise Nøstvold (Nor)

Dutch National Team (NED): Kirsten Wild (Ned)
Skil-1t4i (SKI): Adrie Visser (Ned)
Stichting Rabo Women (RBW): Iris Slappendel (Ned)


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