Victory in a tough final sprint saw Kirsten Wild (Cervélo) take a last minute victory in the Ladies Tour of Qatar for a second year running.
Wild had clawed her way back into overall contention after taking bonus seconds in all three of the intermediate sprints on stage three and then finally went and clinched the overall in the final dash for the line on Doha’s Corniche seafront.
Wild also avoided a nasty crash less than 100 metres to the line which saw HTC-Columbia’s young sprinter Chloe Hosking hospitalised with head injuries. Initial reports say the Australian is in a stable condition.
Although Germany’s Lisa Brennauer had a couple of minutes advantage when the bunch hit the final six laps around the seafront, with overall victory on the table Cervélo were in no mood to let the attacks go.
With three kilometres left to race and a ferociously strong headwind it was clear it would come down to a bunch sprint of a front group of about 40 riders, which Wild took in emphatic fashion.
Second was Italy’s Giorgia Bronzini, who had been leading the race going into the final stage after her stage two win. Safa-Pasta Zara’s Rasa Leleivyte was third.
“I didn’t know what my condition would be like for this race because I had to leave our training camp early when I fell ill,” Wild said afterwards.
“And although I won the intermediate sprints on the first stage which made me one of the team’s leaders, I punctured in the final sprint that day and then I got fourth on the second stage.
“So I knew it was going to be very close and very stressful because I had to win the last sprint and I had only one opportunity. But I took it, and I won.”
Asked about her Cervélo team-mate Lizzie Armitstead, who crashed out in the second stage, Wild said “it was a bad crash, she went down hard, hurting her right side and she’s got a neckbrace on as a precaution, but I think she’s doing okay.”
The men’s Tour of Qatar starts on Sunday, February 7.