Ladies’ Tour of Qatar: Kirsten Wild powers into the lead on stage three
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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ladies’ Tour of Qatar: Kirsten Wild powers into the lead on stage three

by Ben Atkins at 7:13 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour of Qatar
 
Dutch powerhouse wins her second stage; late puncture denies Chloe Hosking

 Kirsten WildKirsten Wild (Argos-Shimano) powered herself into the lead of the 2013 Ladies’ Tour of Qatar with her second stage win between Al Thakhira on the east coast of the peninsular and Madinat Al Shamal in the north. The Dutch powerhouse rode the final kilometres like the Points Races she had spent the previous months riding on the track, responding to a succession of attacks from rivals in the Orica-AIS and Specialized-lululemon teams, but eventually took the third stage with ease as she opened up her sprint with 100 metres to go.

Wild’s compatriot Ellen van Dijk (Specialized-lululemon) led all the way to the closing metres, but was unable to respond when the Argos-Shimano rider accelerated, and had to settle for second place, while two-time former World champion Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-Honda) took third place behind the two Dutchwomen.

"We hoped this morning that there would be an attack from a group and that it would come to a sprint at the end," Wild explained afterwards. "But because of the speed, there was no early break. At the first sprint, which I won ahead of the race leader, Chloe Hosking, a group of 18 riders, including [teammate] Elke Gerbhard and myself, formed off the front due to a crash. We didn’t put too much effort in, and just before the second sprint the chase group came back, creating a group of 39 riders, including 5 of our team.

"At the second sprint there were 2 riders off the front and I was able to take third, so that put me within 7 seconds of the jersey."

Disaster struck for race leader Chloe Hosking (Hitec Products), whose team had contained all the attacks from Orica-AIS throughout the day, as she suffered a puncture in the final kilometre. The Australian was given the same time as Wild, but was unable to sprint for the bonus seconds at the finish; ten seconds on the line for Wild, as well as those taken at the two intermediate sprint, saw the two-time race winner move ahead of Hosking by three seconds with one stage to go.

“In the finale our team was fantastic," said Wild. "They kept control and chased down all the attacks. In the last 5 kilometres they really controlled the bunch, and it was up to me to perform well in the sprint, although it wasn’t easy. I got on Ellen van Dijk’s wheel and was able to come around her in the end to take the win. Hosking punctured in the finale, so she was unable to contest the sprint. That meant I was able to take the leader’s jersey as well.  

“Now we need to make a good plan for tomorrow; it will be a hard day, but the others will have to come up with a good tactic to beat our strong team and take the jersey. At least I can say that we are ready for the fight.”

A tailwind keeps it together until the race turns a corner

The strong wind that had played such a big part in the first two stages hit the race immediately, and was almost directly on the backs of the riders as they crossed the Qatari peninsular from east to west. Consequently, the peloton reached speeds of up to 70kph in the opening kilometres. There were several attempted breakaways in the first hour, including attacks from Chantal Blaak (Tibco-To The Top), and from Hitec Products riders Tone Hatteland Lima and Emilia Fahlin. The pace was far too high for anybody to get clear, however, with the peloton covering

At the first intermediate sprint, in Al Zubara after 60km, Wild took first place - and three bonus seconds - ahead of Hosking and her own Argos-Shimano teammate Charlotte Becker. This closed the Dutch sprinter’s deficit to the Australian to just eight seconds, and drew her level with second place Gracie Elvin (Orica-GreenEdge).

The course turned 90 degrees to the right shortly afterwards, however, to follow the coast in a northeasterly direction, and the expected fireworks came from Orica-AIS. Just as it had done on the previous stage, the Australian team suddenly accelerated and put the rest of the peloton in the gutter.

The bunch was immediately under pressure, and a crash in the middle caused a big split, with just over 40 riders making it into the front group. This group was to split in two, leaving just 18 riders in the lead, but there were enough big names in the second part to close the 35 second gap that had opened up.

Attacks begin on the finishing circuit and Wild edges closer

A small group briefly pulled clear off the front, including Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products), second place Elvin, Lauren Kitchen (Wiggle-Honda), Claudia Häusler (Tibco-To The Top), Lisa Brennauer (Specialized-lululemon), and Marta Tagliaferro (Cipollini-Giordana), but this was pulled back again as the race approached the finishing circuit.

As the race turned inland in Brennauer and Blaak managed to escape the peloton, and were several seconds clear as they crossed the finish line to start the final 13.5km circuit. Brennauer was first across the line, to take the three seconds ahead of Blaak, but Wild took third behind them - in a close battle with Hosking - to take the final second and edge closer to the Australian overall

As the circuit continued groups continually pulled clear of the front of the peloton, looking as though they were set to catch the two leaders, but all drifted back into the chasing peloton and the duo was still clear as it approached the final ten kilometres.

Past the ten kilometre banner Brennauer and Blaak held 15 seconds over the chasing group. Hitec Products was setting the pace behind but, with seven kilometres to go, Noemi Cantele (Be Pink) jumped away from the peloton, taking Fahlin with her. They quickly caught up with the leading duo, to make a group of four, but the gap to the chasing group - which was now led by Argos-Shimano - was just a few seconds.

Gracie Elvin goes on the offensive, Wild absorbs every attack and disaster strikes Hosking

Orica-AIS teammates Amanda Spratt and Elvin tried to leap clear as the race left the big highway and hit a smaller provincial road, but Argos-Shimano refused to let them go. Elvin continued to drive on the front, however, trying to put pressure on Hosking, but the result of this was that the four-woman breakaway group was caught with just over five kilometres left.

With the race all together the attacks began again, and Elvin hit the front to try to escape, but Wild was on her wheel immediately. The Dutch sprinter was now alone at the front of the peloton, with Orica-AIS and Specialized-lululemon there on force; Wild had spent the winter on the track, however, and was marking each attack as though she was riding a Points Race.

Elvin went again, pulling Worrack and Longo Borghini clear with two kilometres to go, but Wild clawed the rest of the group across the gap as they passed the flamme rouge. As Elvin attacked again, Hosking punctured; since they were inside the final three kilometres she would be given the same time as the group, but had no chance to fight for the bonuses with Wild.

Ellen van Dijk led into the finishing straight, but Wild was on her wheel all the way and, as she approached the final hundred metres the Dutch powerhouse cruised past to win the stage with ease.

Hosking rolled over the line, still with her flat front tyre, in the company of teammate Longo Borghini, losing her gold jersey to Wild.

Result stage 3
1. Kirsten Wild (Ned) Argos-Shimano
2. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Specialized-lululemon
3. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle-Honda @ 2s
4. Marta Tagliaferro (Ita) Cipollini-Giordana
5. Shelley Olds (USA) Team Tibco-To The Top @ 4s
6. Simona Frapporti (Ita) Be Pink @ 5s
7. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon
8. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-GreenEdge
9. Gracie Elvin (Aus) Orica-AIS
10. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Orica-AIS

Standings after stage 3
1. Kirsten Wild (Ned) Argos-Shimano
2. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Hitec Products @ 3s
3. Gracie Elvin (Aus) Orica-AIS @ 16s
4. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Specialized-lululemon @ 17s
5. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon @ 26s
6. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS @ 29s
7. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Orica-AIS @ 31s
8. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Specialized @ 1’52”
9. Marta Tagliferro (Ita) Cipollini-Giordana @ 1’58”
10. Lauren Kitchen (Aus) Wiggle-Honda @ 2’02”

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