What a difference a day makes at the Ladies Tour of Qatar. After yesterday’s benign stage, where a flat course and near windless conditions brought about a bunch sprint, today saw crosswinds, echelons and a new overall leader. And when the race split apart, Eileen Roe, riding for the new Belgian team Lares-Wauwdeals, was surprised to find herself right in the mix.
One of only five British riders in the race, former British criterium champion Roe, was the first of her compatriots to cross the finish line, in 22nd place, 1-50 down on Australian winner Katrin Garfoot (Orica-AIS).
Kirsten Wild, who started the day in the leader’s gold jersey, punctured as the crosswinds took their toll, never regaining contact with the leaders. After crashing in the chase, she eventually ended the day nearly four minutes behind Garfoot.
Into a headwind for the first 46kms the race was smashed to pieces when the peloton made the turn, where Roe found herself in the right place.
“I felt absolutely brilliant, I couldn’t believe some of the wheels I was following,” she told Cycling Weekly. “I was surrounded by world champions and time triallists. I’m just a wee Scottish lassie!
“As soon as it hit the cross wind section it just split to pieces. We were in the second split, but that came back together. In the second cross wind section it split again. I’m gutted that I had nothing left, but after yesterday’s work my legs were so sore, but they came together.”
After a year with Wiggle-Honda the Scotswoman secured her new team late late last year, “Egon [Van Kessell, DS] from Wiggle got in contact with the team and they liked some of the work I did with Wiggle last year and were quite interested,” Roe explained.
“My contract with Wiggle wasn’t renewed and I was a bit gutted, I was really starting to learn stuff from [Giorgia] Bronzini and Chloe [Hosking], but here we’ve got Monique van der Ree and she’s really helping me.”
As a new team Lares-Wauwdeals is only ranked 26th by the UCI, and as such will need to earn invitations to some of the bigger races, despite this Roe has a full year ahead of her.
“It might be quite a busy programme, we’re doing a complete European calendar and and some big World Tour races too. I think we’re just trying to get our name known at this race and get invites to other races.”
Watch: Women’s WorldTour contenders 2016
Another Brit, Liv-Plantur’s Molly Weaver crashed twice, the second time banging her head. Limping after the stage she told us, “It just opened up in front of me and I went down. But I’ll start tomorrow.”
Garfoot’s win, after escaping a group of 10 others in the final kilometres, underlines her form. She won the Australian tie trial championships and a stage and general classification at the Tour Down Under last month. Her Orica-AIS team suffered a poor season in 2015 but have come out fighting with seven wins already this year, including the national road race title taken by Amanda Spratt.
Stage three will tackle the 112.5km between Al Zubarah Fort and Madinat Al Shamal. Traditionally a windy stage anyway, stronger winds are forecast, so the peloton is likely to be in for another hard day.
Ladies of Tour of Qatar 2016, stage two
1. Katrin Garfoot (Aus) Orica-AIS in 3-07-13
2. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Canyon-SRAM at 13 secs
3. Amy Pieters (Ned) Wiggle High 5
4. Romy Kasper (Bel) Boels-Dolmans
5. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle-High 5 at 58 secs
6. Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) Boels-Dolmans
7. Barbara Guarischi (Ita) Canyon-SRAM
8. Elisa Longo-Borghini (Ita) Wiggle-High 5
9. Gracie Elvin (Aus) Orica-AIS
10. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon-SRAM at same time
General classification after stage two
1. Katrin Garfoot (Aus) Orica-AIS in 5-26-07
2. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Canyon-SRAM at 17 secs
3. Amy Pieters (Ned) Wiggle High 5 at 19 secs
4. Romy Kasper (Bel) Boels-Dolmans at 23 secs
5. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle-High 5 at 1-02
6. Gracie Elvin (Aus) Orica-AIS at 1-07
7. Barbara Guarischi (Ita) Canyon-SRAM at 1-08
8. Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at 1-08
9. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon-SRAM at 1-08
10. Elisa Longo-Borghini (Ita) Wiggle-High 5 at 1-08