Cyclists compete in the final stage of the Ladies Tour of Qatar in Doha yesterday. The route of the final and fourth stage covered 86.5 kilometres from the Sealine Beach Resort to the Doha Corniche. Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands won her third successive stage yesterday to complete a hat-trick of titles in Qatar. Wild won the titles in 2009 and 2010.
BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: Two-time champion Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands yesterday produced yet another near-perfect finish, winning the fourth and final stage of the Ladies Tour of Qatar to pocket her third title in the last five years.
Wild won her third successive stage - her sixth overall in Qatar - to retain the golden jersey and picked up the top prize in front of a huge crowd at Doha Corniche.
Compatriot Lucinda Brand (Rabobank Liv/Giant) finished second and Italy’s Marta Tagliaferro (MCipollini Giordana) was third fastest after Wild picked up speed at the final rush to the finish line.
Italy’s Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) finished fourth while compatriot Simona Frapporti (BePink) was fifth.
Thanks to time bonuses during the 86.5-km stage, Wild extended her overall lead to 14 seconds on Chloe Hosking (Hitec Products UCK), who won the first stage on Tuesday.
The 22-year-old Australian rider was fourth fastest during stage two but a puncture late in the third stage hurt her chances of winning the title in Qatar.
Elen Van Dijk (Specialized-lululemon), the 2011 champion, was third overall at 29 seconds.
Ever the team player, Wild was quick to praise her co-riders in Argos-Shimano after less wind allowed aggressive attacks during the 86.5-km stage.
“It’s incredible. The Tour of Qatar is one of my favourite races,” a beaming Wild said.
“I am proud of my team,” Wild said before the prize distribution ceremony. “They are such a strong bunch of players,” the affable Dutch rider added.
“I am glad that we made it,” she said with her trademark smile in place.
“I think there were tougher riders this year,” Wild said when asked to compare her past victories.
“It was a very hard race. I guess the best team won,” she said. “I am happy. We had a nice competition here.”
Wild said winning the penultimate stage set her up for her third title win in Qatar.
“Yes, yesterday’s (Thursday’s) stage was crucial. We got the golden jersey. The three-second lead that I had was always going to be an advantage,” the 2009 and 2010 champion said.
“That advantage helps if you are behind. Yes, we (the team) grabbed that initiative and we did well today also,” Wild said.
“That’s how it was possible to win.”
The Dutch rider said she did not expect to win ‘given the strong field in Qatar’.
“There were 90 riders and anyone can win.
“But we had a very strong bunch of riders,” Wild said.
“You always know your form is good but what you don’t know is how your other competitors are feeling. The level of this race is very high,” she said.
“And you never know how you would race after an off-season spent in winter,” Wild told a scrum of reporters.
Hosking - who held on to the golden jersey for the first two stages - rued the puncture late in stage three.
“It is nice to be on the podium but obviously it is disappointing not to win after getting a puncture (on Thursday),” Hosking said.
“I tried to do something different in the sprints but it didn’t work (laughs). The plan was to get a bit of build up in the sprint but we couldn’t do it,” the Australian said.
“Generally it was a nice week for the team,” she said.
“Hopefully I will be able to come back healthy and stronger,” Hosking added.
The prizes were handed over by Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Thani, President of the Qatar Cycling Federation (QCF).
Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrehman Al Thani, Secretary General, Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) was also presented during the presentations.
The men’s Tour of Qatar begins tomorrow with top British rider Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) just one of the many sprinters expected to fight for stage victories.
THE PENINSULArick with ease