Chloe Hosking (Hitec Products) narrowly outsprinted fellow Australian Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS) to win stage one of the four-day Ladies' Tour of Qatar.
The crosswinds that often characterise this race in the desert were not as strong as they can be, though they did cause some damage over the final 30km as a group of twenty went clear.
In the final 4km that was whittled down further, with four jumping away: Hosking, the best young rider at Qatar in 2012, Elvin, who was recently crowned Australian road champion, Germany's Lisa Brennauer (Specialized-Lululemon) and, the last to join the quartet, Liesbeth De Vocht, the sole Belgian in the Rabo Women's Cycling team.
With the time bonus, 22-year-old Hosking, who opened the sprint, and, turning a huge gear, just edged out Elvin, takes a six-second overall lead into stage two. A chase group of 14 came in ten seconds later, with the main bunch conceding a hefty 1.55.
"When there were 20 or 25 riders went away, I knew I had to be there with Specicalized and Orica there," said Hosking. "When the gap got bigger and bigger, I knew that it was a good move. I was able to hold it and finally get a win. I have had a few podium places, but this is my first win [in Qatar].
"I knew it was close," she continued, "but Gracie is close to from where I'm from, and I knew she was in form and the one to beat."
Hosking said she fancies defending her gold jersey: "Definitely. We have about 20 seconds, which is a good buffer over some of the favourites, but I've got to keep building on it.
"I had no expectations coming in just because I had a very different preparation from the past," she continued. "My preparation is for the spring, for races like Het Nieuwsblad and the Drenten races. It's my first race of the year, other than the national champs, and I thought I was going to suck, so I'm very happy to get the win."
Britain's Katie Colclough (Specialized-Lululemon) finished in 17th spot, safely in the chasing group at 10 seconds.
Ladies Tour of Qatar 2013, stage one: Doha to Mesaieed, 97km
1. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Hitec Products in 2-23-51
2. Gracie Elvin (Aus) Orica-AIS
3. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Specialized-Lululemon
4. Liesbeth De Vocht (Bel) Rabobank Liv/Giant at same time
5. Marta Tagliaferro (Ita) MCipollini Giordana at 10 secs
6. Kirsten Wild (Ned) Argos-Shimano
7. Simona Frapporti (Ita) BePink
8. Shelley Olds (USA) TIBCO-To The Top
9. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS
10. Elen Van Dijk (Ned) Specialized-Lululemon at same time
17. Katie Colclough (GBr) Specialized-Lululemon at 10 secs
Overall classification after stage one
1. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Hitec Products in 2-23-39
2. Gracie Elvin (Aus) Orica-AIS at 6 secs
3. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Specialized-Lululemon at 8 secs
4. Liesbeth De Vocht (Bel) Rabobank Liv/Giant at same time at 12 secs
5. Kirsten Wild (Ned) Argos-Shimano at 19 secs
6. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS at 19 secs
7. Rochelle Gilmore (Aus) Wiggle-Honda at 20 secs
8. Marta Tagliaferro (Ita) MCipollini Giordana at 21 secs
9. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Orica-AIS at 21 secs
10. Simona Frapporti (Ita) BePink at 22 secs
18. Katie Colclough (GBr) Specialized-Lululemon at 22 secs
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