Cervélo’s Kirsten Wild defends Tour of Qatar title
After her teammates spent much of the day chasing down breaks and keeping her in position, Cervélo TestTeam’s Kirsten Wild won the stage 3 sprint finish and thereby the overall title at the 2nd Ladies’ Tour of Qatar.
Stage 2 winner Giorgia Bronzini (Italy) placed second and U.S. national team rider Lauren Tamayo sprinted home for third.
Although Wild, winner of the inaugural Tour of Qatar in 2009, did not place on the podium of the first two stages, she systematically won all four intermediate sprints on stages 1 and 2, collecting valuable bonus seconds. On Friday, she moved within a single second of race leader Bronzini on the road by snatching the first intermediate sprint.
With the final sprint offering bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds to the podium, Cervélo and Team Italia started doing the mental math of what each needed to do for the overall.
When it came down to the wire, however, there was no need for careful calculations, as Wild dominantly won the finale.
“My team did so much work,” Wild said. “There were so many attacks. They helped me until the final 100 meters. All I had to do was put my hands (up over the finishline).”
U.S. national rider Tamayo had teammate Shelly Evans setting her up for the sprint. Evans (née Olds) and Tamayo are also teammates on the new Peanut Butter & Co./TWENTY12 squad.
“We just trying to stay protected with Cervélo, and knew that they were going to be the strong ones for the finish,” said Tamayo.
Evans swung off with about 400 meters to go, and Tamayo latched onto an Australian wheel before opening her sprint.
Up from the dunes
The day began at the Sealine Beach Resort, with sand dunes and the burning fires of oil refineries as a backdrop. A stiff headwind and even a little rain greeted the peloton as it set out north towards Doha and the six finishing circuits along the waterfront of Doha Corniche.
After a few attacks on the flat roads came to naught, Germany’s Lisa Brennauer took advantage of the lull after the first intermediate sprint to launch a solo move. Despite a steady wind that bent the branches of roadside palm trees in her direction, Brennauer built up a lead of nearly four minutes.
Australia’s Tiffany Cromwell later leapt out of the field, and dangled between Brennauer and the bunch until after the peloton swept onto the finishing circuits.
But Cervélo kept the pressure on, and with five laps to go it was all back together.
The finishing circuit consisted of a flat, 6km out-and-back that paraded in front of the royal palace. There was a strong tailwind on the backstretch, and a stiff headwind on the run-in to the finish.
HTC-Columbia, Cervélo, the U.S. national team and others were active in the dwindling laps, but nothing stuck. Although Italy held the jersey, the team did not control the race at the end.
“They really weren’t doing much work,” Tamayo said. “They were leaving it all to Cervélo. Columbia did a great job trying to put the pressure on them. But this whole home stretch was really hard for anybody to stay off the front.”
As Cervélo wound up the lead-out, HTC-Columbia’s Chloe Hosking touched wheels and went down — she left the race conscious but strapped to a board in an ambulance. The women at the front heard the crash but couldn’t afford to look back. Charging ahead of the field, Wild had enough of a gap to throw her hands up well before the line.
Bronzini’s second place on the stage kept her in second overall, and Rasa Lelivyte (Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan) rounded out the final GC podium.