Ellen van Dijk wrapped up victory in the Women’s Tour of Qatar today. She successfully protected her lead in the day’s third stage, finishing in the midst of the bunch.
The HTC-Highroad rider had won Thursday’s second stage, where she built up her lead by picking up all the intermediate sprint points and time bonuses along the way.
The HTC team enjoyed a number of great results in the tour, with Charlotte Becker taking second overall, Andrie Visser getting fourth, and Chloe Hosking tenth. Van Dijk also picked up victory in the points and young riders classification, with the group winning the teams’ prize too.
Both the women’s and the men’s Tours of Qatar are renowned for being pan-flat, with strong winds typically providing the challenging and variable conditions. This year the winds duly delivered, and cyclists were battered for each of the three days.
Rochelle Gilmore of Lotto Honda won the first stage in a bunch sprint, with Monica Baccaillle winning the last in similar circumstances. Van Dijk’s second-stage victory came following a split in the field facilitated by simultaneous strong gusts and a crash.
Unfortunately for British interests, Nicole Cooke found herself on the wrong side of this split and couldn’t close it up. She finished the stage over two minutes down on van Dijk, the difference between her eventual thirteenth position and a potential top five finish.
HTC-Highroad’s clean sweep comes following a fortnight of great sadness for the team following the death of Carla Swart in an accident whilst training in South Africa. Van Dijk dedicated both her stage and overall victory to her former teammate.
The men’s Tour kicks off in Doha on Sunday.