Amy Pieters (Giant-Shimano) took advantage of a late move to take the stage win and overall leader’s jersey on a day when strong wind once again took hold at the Ladies Tour of Qatar.
The Dutchwoman was part of a four strong move made with 14km to go, and with three teammates in the chasing group she could afford to sit and wait for the sprint.
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However her final winning margin of 27 seconds over the chasing group behind meant she overtook her teammate and the previous race leader Kirsten Wild in the general classification.
Wild took the sprint for fifth place from a group of just 16 riders to leave Giant-Shimano first and second overall with two stages remaining.
“I was in the front group and I had Kirsten [Wild] behind me, so I was waiting for the sprint,” Pieters said. “[Even if] the group [had] come back it would be ok because I had Kirsten and the yellow jersey behind me.
“There was really a lot of wind today and from the start it was a hard stage, but it was also a nice stage.”
Stage into the Shamal
With a finish town bearing the same name as the strong wind that blows down from the North West, the Shamal, it was apt that wind was to define the outcome of the race, creating a lead echelon of the 21 strongest riders within the first five kilometres of racing.
Shelley Olds (Ale-Cipollini) and Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans), who finished second and fifth respectively on stage one, were the two biggest names to miss the move as the teams of Giant-Shimano, Orica-AIS, Rabo-Liv Women and Wiggle-Honda bludgeoned their way into the gusts that whipped in off the Persian Gulf and across the empty desert.
As the flat asphalt stretched out in front of them, the gap between the two groups stretched out to over 10 minutes by the time the peace was broken and the first moves began.
After an unsuccessful solo attack by Iris Slappendel (Rabo-Liv Women), her teammate Anna Van der Breggen countered with one lap of the four 14km finishing circuits remaining.
She dragged with her Pieters, Charlotte Becker (Wiggle-Honda) and Inga Cilvinaite (Rusvelo) on a tailwind stretch of four-lane motorway.
“I have nothing personal against Kirsten Wild, but it’s not fun if she wins here every day so we have to make it a hard race,” said Slappendel at the finish.
“We started attacking with 30km to go; first it was me alone and then it was Anna. Everyone was looking at each other and she [Anna] was gone.”
Pieters easily took the stage win and bonus seconds to lead the GC, however the top ten overall remain within 38 seconds of the gold jersey.
The race continues tomorrow with another flat stage from Katara Cultural Village to Al Khor Corniche, a distance of 93.5km.
Ladies Tour of Qatar, stage two: Al Zubara Fort to Madinat Al Shamal, 112.5km
1. Amy Pieters (Giant-Shimano) in 2-53-33
2. Anna Van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv Women) at 3 secs
3. Charlotte Becker (Wiggle-Honda) at s.t.
4. Inga Cilvinaite (Rusvelo) at 6 secs
5. Kirsten Wild (Giant-Shimano) at 27 seconds
6. Chloe Hosking (Hitec Products)
7. Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS)
8. Olga Zabelinskaya at s.t.
9. Jolien D’Hoore (Lotto-Belisol) at 31 secs
10. Melissa Hoskins (Orica-AIS) at s.t.
50. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) at 11-57
Overall classification after stage two
1. Amy Pieters (Giant-Shimano) in 5-03-28
2. Kirsten Wild (Giant-Shimano) at 7 secs
3. Chloe Hosking (Hitec Products) at 18 secs
4. Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) at 28 secs
5. Jolien D’Hoore (Lotto-Belisol) at 30 secs
6. Melissa Hoskins (Orica-AIS) at 31 secs
7. Iris Slappendel (Rabo-Liv Women) at 38 secs
8. Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS)
9. Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans)
10. Trixi Worrack (Specialized-lululemon) at s.t.
23. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) at 11-56