Ellen Van Dijk and HTC-Highroad dedicate Qatar win to the memory of Carla Swart
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Thursday, February 03, 2011

Ellen Van Dijk and HTC-Highroad dedicate Qatar win to the memory of Carla Swart

by Ben Atkins at 7:01 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Dutch rider’s stage win dedicated to the memory of tragically deceased teammate

carla swartToday’s second stage of the Ladies Tour of Qatar was subjected to the strong Gulf winds that typify the Middle Eastern race. A breakaway group managed to break free under pressure from the HTC-Highroad team; given the conditions it was no surprise that the victory went to Ellen Van Dijk, one of the team’s two Dutch riders.

"I'm from Holland so I'm used to a bit of wind," explained Van Dijk. “This was a lot of wind and we wanted to make the most of it.”

Originally, HTC-Highroad made up half of the eight-rider breakaway, with Van Dijk, German champion Charlotte Becker, the other Dutch rider Adrie Visser and Chloe Hosking, third on yesterday’s first stage and wearing the white, young rider’s jersey.

The team’s plans were forced to change though when Hosking suffered a mechanical incident and was forced to sit up and wait for the peloton.

"Unfortunately we lost our sprinter Chloe to a puncture but we still had three in the break,” explained Van Dijk. “The girls helped me get the intermediate time bonus sprints and worked really hard to make the break work so that I could sprint at the finish."

For HTC-Highroad, a personal victory is one enjoyed by the whole team; not only that but the team’s plan was executed perfectly on the road, as team director Jens Zemke explained.

"For me this was absolutely great," he said. "It's my first race with the team and it's nice to start this way. The girls were prepared to come here to win. We had a very good training camp in Mallorca last week and the girls were really motivated.

"We knew there would be a strong cross wind after the first sprint,” Zemke explained. “We had checked out the spot on the course before the race and they followed the plan perfectly. They ended up with the race lead, the team GC lead, the points jersey and the young riders jersey."

"It's not over yet,” he added. “We still have to defend tomorrow but we are motivated."

In all the euphoria of victory, Van Dijk an the team were keen to remember their recently, tragically deceased teammate Carla Swart. The 23-year-old South African had only been with the team for a few weeks before she was struck by a truck while out training at home in South Africa; despite the short time she was with them though, Swart’s loss has touched the team deeply, which Van Dijk paid tribute to.

"I'd like to dedicate this win to our teammate Carla Swart who passed away two weeks ago,” she said. “She died in an accident and it's really sad and very hard for us all and we wanted to win for her here."

Carla Swart’s funeral was held in South Africa today and a memorial service will be held for her in her US home of Banner Elk, South Carolina next week.

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