Dutch rider Amy Pieters crosses the finish line at the end of stage two of Ladies Tour of Qatar in Madinat Al Shamal. PICTURES: SALIM MATRAMKOT
BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: Dutch rider Amy Pieters upstaged title favourite and compatriot Kirsten Wild to grab the golden jersey on day two of the four-stage Ladies Tour of Qatar.
The Giant-Shimano rider clinched the final sprint of the 112.5km stage ahead of Anna Van Der Breggen (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team) and Charlotte Becker (Wiggle Honda).
Pieters won the stage in a time of 2 hours 53:33 seconds.
Inga Cilvinaite (RusVelo) finished fourth fastest after the group began riding from Al Zubarah Fort while stage one winner Wild crossed the finish line in fifth spot, a notch ahead of Chloe Hosking of Australia.
Sweden’s Emma Johansson (Orica - AIS), Russia’s Olga Zabelinskaya (RusVelo), Belgium’s Jolien D’Hoore (Lotto Belisol Ladies) and Australia’s Melissa Hoskins (Orica - AIS) completed the top-10 fastest riders.
Even in glory, Pieters put her team first.
“It’s good for the team because we have first and second in the general classification,” Pieters after wearing the golden jersey.
The 22-year-old from Haarlem, the Netherlands, said timing her break in the last sprint was key to her maiden stage win in Doha.
“I was in the last wheel because I had Kirsten in the group behind me, so I was waiting for the sprint,” Pieters said. “If the group came back, then that was also ok because I had Kirsten in the yellow jersey behind me.”
When asked to compare her with compatriot Wild, Pieters said: “I don’t know, I think we’re both really good. I just hope the jersey stays in the team.”
Wild, the silver jersey holder, wasn’t at her cheerful best when asked about the final sprint.
“We didn’t do the job,” Wild told cyclingnews.com. “I expected it to break up early because there was the sidewind,” Wild added. “I just think we were just lucky that there were four in the front.”
Bunched together in the last 6kms, Pieters, Van der Breggen, Becker and Cilvinaite dominated the proceedings by increasing their lead to 48 seconds but with 300m to go, Pieters broke free from the group.
Pieters pipped the chasing pack at the end in Madina Al Shamal to pocked the bonus seconds that helped the Dutch rider to push Wild from the top of the overall standings after day two.
After two stages, Pieters holds the gold jersey while Wild will start day three in silver jersey. Continuing to impress with her riding, Hoskins retained the “White Pearl” jersey after finishing 10th fastest rider.
Pieters’ overall time is 5 hours 03:28 seconds. The Dutch rider has a seven-second lead over Wild. Hosking, one of the riders expected to dominate in ‘flat’ Qatar, is 17 seconds adrift of Pieters.
Earlier, a strong wind greeted the 88 riders that assembled at Al Zubarah Fort for the 112.5km ride.
As expected, the first few kilometres proved to be eventful due to the crosswind.
The pack broke up into several groups as soon as the 5-km mark with 21 riders making their own lead. The leaders included Wild, Hosking, Johansson, Hoskins and double world champion Georgia Bronzini.
Building on their fine momentum, the leading pack stretched their lead to 3 minute 55 seconds at the 50-km mark.
Once on the final circuit around Madinat Al Shamal, Wild claimed the first intermediate sprint at the second crossing of the line (72-km mark) ahead of Hosking and Jolien D’Hoore.
The front girls were then no longer concerned by the chasing pack as the gap reached a stunning 6’50 at the 77-km mark.
The second bonus sprint of the day at the fourth crossing of the line (99-km mark) was clinched by Hosking ahead of Wild and D’Hoore. Eventually, after quite a few attempts, four riders managed to break away at the 100-km mark: Pieters, Van Der Breggen, Becker and Cilvinaite. Five kilometres later they had a 45-second lead over the chasing pack. The gap remained the same with three kilometres to go.
The final sprint was finally claimed by Pieters beating Van Der Breggen and Becker to the line while the golden jersey group finished 27 seconds adrift of the winner. THE PENINSULA