DOHA (VN) — Kirsten Wild (Argos-Shimano) rode into Ladies Tour of Qatar history on Friday, winning her third overall title and sixth stage.
Taking the stage win to clinch her overall title was “the most ideal way,” Wild said. “I hoped for the jersey, but getting the stage too, I’m happy.”
Wild sprinted into Doha’s growing city center ahead of Lucinda Brand (Rabobank). She already wore the golden leader’s jersey, thanks to winning the two previous legs, but the bonus seconds Friday saw her secure it by 14 seconds over Chloe Hosking (Hitec Products-UCK).
Wild won the title when the race began in 2009 and defended it in 2010. En route to her third overall win she has won six stages, three this year.
The victories sit well in her palmarès along with the Omloop Het Volk, Suède Vargarda, Nürnberger Altstadt and stages in the women’s Giro d’Italia.
“I’m happy with this. It’s a big stage race,” Wild said. “I like the game, and with this team you can play the game. We played the game.”
Argos controlled Friday’s final stage from the Sealine Beach Resort in Qatar’s southwest. In Doha, they led Wild through the closing circuits and to the sprint.
“To beat her in this wind is a little difficult,” said two-time world champion Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-Honda). “It’s a race for girls like Kirsten Wild, very powerful, tall and a little heavy. No, look, she was born in the wind, in Holland. We [Italians] are not used to it and we suffer more.”
Indeed, Wild looks powerful and stands tall off her bike. According to the team’s website, she stands 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighs 138 pounds and is an “all-rounder with a strong sprint.” That makes her perfect for Qatar, almost a women’s version of Tom Boonen, who holds the record in the men’s race with four overall wins.
“This race is tailor-made for someone like her,” said Rochelle Gilmore, Wiggle-Honda team owner. “To win three stages is amazing. Even if she’s in the form of her life, it’s still hard to pull off three stages in a row. She’s the strongest right now, but with circuits like this, at any point in the year, she’s hard to beat.”
Gilmore called the win “very prestigious.”
“The level here was really high. Even if it’s the first race of the season, it’s high,” she said. “Everyone wants to do well here. … If one of my riders could put this race on her palmarès in the future, I’d be pretty impressed.”
The women fly home Friday and Saturday as the men arrive for their race, which begins Sunday and concludes February 8. Argos-Shimano also fields a men’s team and stands a chance to win again, with John Degenkolb and Tom Veelers.
“Kirsten’s win gives the team a boost,” team sporting director Marc Reef told VeloNews. “This is our first GC win of the year. … Incredible.”