DOHA, February 5, 2016 – Dutch rider Eleonora Van Dijk on Thursday won the second stage at the Ladies Tour of Qatar where Germany’s Trixi Worrack grabbed the leader’s golden jersey with another consistent ride.
While Van Dijk celebrated her second successive stage win in Madinat Al Shamal, four-time champion Kirsten Wild recovered well to finish second in the 1122-km stage that started from Al Zubarah Fort.
Lauretta Hanson of Australia finished the stage in third spot, a notch above Dutch rider Anouska Koster.
Worrack, riding for Canyon SRAM Racing, was 8 seconds slower than Van Dijk but that was sufficient for the German to own the golden jersey going into today’s fourth and final stage.
Van Dijk clocked a time of 2 hours 48.56 seconds to claim the stage while Wild grabbed the second spot 7 seconds behind the Dutch rider.
“The first kilometre was one big fight among all of us,” Van Dijk said yesterday after clinching the stage with a convincing margin.
“We had to fight until the end and we also had to play it smart and wait until the right moment to make a dash for it. “And in the end, it worked out absolutely well,” the Dutch rider told reporters yesterday.
In the general classification, Worrack leads the pack with a time of 8 hours 15.28 seconds. The German has a 17-second advantage over compatriot Romy Kasper (Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam). Van Dijk is 31 seconds behind Worrack.
“We’ll try to defend it (the golden jersey) tomorrow,” Worrack said after the second stage yesterday.
“There’s one more stage and we’ll put everything together,” the German rider added quickly.
“It was a really tough day for us, we had to do a lot of work to get the jersey. After two kilometres, the bunch was split and it was just crazy.”
Van Dijk, part of a breakaway group that took off as soon as the first few kilometres of the windswept day, powered away in the last moments of the race.
She was never to be caught and triumphantly crossed the line on her own, clear of Wild and Hanson.
As expected, the wind showed up on the Ladies Tour of Qatar for the ‘queen stage’ of the event, the loop around Madinat Al Shamal.
A total of 87 riders gathered together for the start of the 112-km race that started close to the historic Al Zubarah Fort, the first ever UNESCO World heritage site in Qatar.
With the wind blowing hard from the north-west, the action started as soon as the very first kilometres of racing.
At the 2-km stage, 13 ladies powered away led by stage 1 winner and four-time winner of the Tour, Wild.
Eager to hit back after suffering both a broken chain and a crash on Wednesday, the Dutch rider, wearing the points silver jersey, made the best of the conditions, taking with her the likes of Van Dijk, Worrack, Kasper, Gracie Elvin, Shelley Olds and best young rider Koster.
Trapped behind, overnight leader Katrin Garfoot reached the 5-km mark with a 50-second deficit.
The gap carried on increasing on the way to Madinat and reached a maximum 2’50 (at the 50-km mark )between the front group of 12 that had lost French rider Jeuland, and a pack including Garfoot, and title contenders Amy Pieters and Chloe Hosking. At the first passage on the line, struggling against the strong headwind, the leaders saw their advantage drop down to 2 minutes.
The first intermediate sprint of the day, at the second passage on the line (at the 72-km mark), was claimed by Elvin ahead of Koster and Hanson while the front group could still enjoy a 1’55’’ advantge.
The gap carried on dropping but the front ladies continued their strong efforts.
At the fourth passage on the line (at the 99-km mark), the leaders’ advantage had dropped to 55’’ as Hanson captured the second intermediate sprint ahead of Van Dijk and Wild.
Moments later, with just under a lap to go, Gracie Elvin took off on her own for a long courageous effort. The Australian reached the final 10-km mark with a slim 10’’ lead.
She was eventually caught at the 108-km mark.
It was still looking good for the front group, enjoying a 45-second advantage with 2kms to go. Like a year ago, at almost the exact same place, Van Dijk powered away.
The 2013 World Time-Trial Champion managed to stay clear of her chasers and victoriously crossed the finish line with a 7-second lead over Wild and Hanson, second and third on the day. After claiming the overall event back in 2011, Van Dijk has not captured her third stage success in Qatar. The riders will start the final day’s proceedings at Aspire Park and conclude at Doha Corniche where they will complete 15 laps of the sea-front of the Qatari capital.