Having described yesterday’s opening stage of the Ladies Tour of Qatar as “boring”, former World time trial champion Ellen van Dijk moved into the overall lead after wind-affected racing today.
The Dutch rider produced a late attack to win in Madinat Al Shamal from a group of six who had earlier been part of a 16-woman front group that formed with the help of crosswinds in the opening 10 kilometres.
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It was a complete contrast to Tuesday’s first stage, which ended in a bunch sprint in solely sunny conditions.
“We were hoping for wind today, we know we have a better chance in those conditions,” said van Dijk. “They said there was not going to be enough wind today, but there was.”
Van Dijk and her Boels team-mate Lizzie Armitstead were initially up against four Wiggle-Honda and three Orica-AIS riders among the 16 leaders, but they combined to whittle the group down on the third of four laps of a 13.5-kilometre finishing circuit. The Briton finished third on the stage, three seconds behind van Dijk.
“I was shocked that it worked,” said Armitstead. “We realised the group was too big – we spoke together, and said that we would attack and give it full on the crosswind section.”
Armitstead – who added that she feared three repeats of yesterday’s “terrible race” – sits second overall, just four seconds behind her team-mate. However, Boels will not decide on the leadership role just yet.
“Anything can happen here – you can lose two minutes in the wind easily,” added van Dijk.