Kristen Wild of Netherlands celebrates winning stage one of 2014 Ladies Tour of Qatar in Mesaieed yesterday. The 6th edition of the Ladies Tour of Qatar started the same way the last one ended - with a victory for star sprinter Wild. The Dutch rider from team Giant-Shimano powered to the line to claim the first stage ahead of Shelley Olds and Chloe Hosking. PICTURES: SALIM MATRAMKOT
BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: Defending champion and three-time winner Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands yesterday laid down a marker for the next three days by grabbing the opening stage at the Ladies Tour of Qatar with a convincing sprint to the finish line.
Timing her final sprint to perfection in the last 200m, the well-built Dutch cyclist overcame windy conditions to take stage one and the yellow jersey in a time of 2 hours 09:56 seconds.
The Giant-Shimano rider topped the 97km stage ahead of Australia’s Shelley Olds and arch-rival Chloe Hosking who was the third fastest rider.
Olds, the Ale Cipollini rider, placed her team on the front of the Doha peloton near the end of the stage before Orica-AIS began to spread its wings.
Sensing a kill, Wild left Olds and Hosking behind to close out a fantastic stage win, her seventh in Qatar in six years.
Wild, 31, won both the sprints at Mesaieed and Al Waukair to add six crucial points to beef her overall tally to 21.
Olds has 14 points while Hosking - who finished third yesterday - has 10 points.
“It was not easy,” Wild said when asked to recap her dominance yesterday.
“I told myself to stay calm. I had a wonderful team to help me out. I had to finish it the way I liked,” the 31-year-old added. “I take it day by day,” Wild said when asked about her chances in the second stage today. “I think it would be more of the same. Maybe we could see a small group (at the end) but I will try to be there,” she added.
“I am happy with this stage win,” Wild, who also wears the silver jersey, said.
Melissa Hoskins - who grabbed the young rider’s ‘White Pearl’ jersey, said she was thrilled to start her Qatar campaign on a bright note.
“This is my first time in Qatar. I didn’t know what to expect,” Hoskins said. “But I am very happy to walk off with a jersey. We have a strong team. So hopefully we can hang on to the jersey and maybe get a stage win or two along the way,’ she added.
“All the girls are feeling strong. Emma (Johansson) led me out. I didn’t have the legs. Hopefully I can do a better job in the second stage,” the Australian said.
“I was hoping for a good result, to be honest,” Hoskins said. “The team has put a lot of trust in me. Hopefully I could walk away with a top-three. Hopefully I can repay the faith of my team-mates,” Hoskins said.
Earlier the 6th edition of the Ladies Tour of Qatar started the same way the last one ended: with a victory for star sprinter Wild.
The Dutch rider from team Giant-Shimano, part of a group of 20 riders that managed to pull away in the last 30 kilometres, powered to the line to claim this first stage ahead of Olds and Hosking.
The 88 riders representing 15 different teams took off in ideal conditions from the Museum of Islamic Art for a 97-kilometre stage all the way to Messaieed. Under bright sunshine, the pack remained bunched at a fairly fast pace (46.1kms covered during the first hour) all the way to the final circuit that was to be ridden twice.
The first intermediate sprint, at the first crossing of the line (35.50km) was claimed by Wild ahead of Elizabeth Armistead and Hoskins.
The first decisive move was made at the 57-km mark when the front runners made the best of the crosswind to pull away.
Eventually 20 riders managed a decent enough break.
In the group were the likes of Wild, Hosking, Armistead and Olds, but somehow Georgia Bronzini - former world champion and three-time stage winner in Qatar - was missing.
The advantage of the front riders grew from 35” to a maximum 1’05 with 25 kilometres to go.
The leading ladies stayed put all the way to the finish, enjoying a 34” lead with 5kms to go.
The decision was made in a final bunched sprint that Wild conquered in style.
Winner of the 2009, 2010 and 2013 editions of the event, the Dutch sprinter takes command of the General Classification as well as the points’ standings while Hoskins will start today’s second stage wearing the ‘White Pearl’ jersey. THE PENINSULA