Lucy Garner’s Ladies Tour of Qatar blog: stage one

The double junior world road race champion talks CW through her first outing in the Arabian event.

Lucy Garner will be blogging for Cycling Weekly throughout this year’s Ladies Tour of Qatar. In her first entry, she describes how today’s opening stage – a 98.5km leg from the Museum of Islamic Art to Dukhan Beach – went.

So that’s my first ever Ladies Tour of Qatar stage finished and, thanks to the lack of wind, it was pretty normal. It wasn’t really that hot, either.

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It was a bit hectic in the opening few kilometres, and there were a few crashes that were caused by some huge cateyes in the middle of the road. That was a little bit ridiculous. We had to go over a series of speedbumps a bit further into the stage, too, but thankfully a number of riders shouted loudly to make sure nobody went flying over the top of them.

Apart from that, the majority of the stage was one of those days when we were just riding along, with nothing really happening. Many riders talk to each other and have a little catch-up to pass the time. I don’t really notice what they’re talking about, I just tend to stay with my team-mates.

Of course, you still have to be vigilant and alert in case there is some action, but because we were heading in the same direction for virtually the entire route, we could feel pretty sure that the wind wasn’t going to change and affect the race. That takes a lot of peoples’ nerves away.

Rabo-Liv tried to break the bunch up within the last 20 kilometres, but that didn’t work. Coming into the finish, I had two of my team-mates with me – Dutch riders Amy Pieters and Willeke Knol. They were doing a fantastic job, but then I lost Amy on a roundabout in the final kilometres, and that’s when a lot of the teams came to the front. In this race, so many teams want to be at the front to set up their sprinters.

I don’t know where I finished in the end [she placed 14th – CW]. I’m disappointed with my sprint, especially as I felt good today. We arrived on Sunday night from Brussels, and admittedly the legs were a bit achey yesterday. Then again, we didn’t exactly go far on our training ride – we were out for about one-and-a-quarter hours. But we headed in the wrong direction after leaving the hotel, and the roads were busy with plenty of traffic lights. It was the type of ride that would be good for improving your clipping in and out technique, but nothing more.