As the old maxim goes, there’s no substitute for experience.
Two-time race winner Kirsten Wild has that in abundance. The tall Dutchwoman was outnumbered but not outfoxed on a particularly blustery day, sprinting to victory in the ladies Tour of Qatar opener – despite being in a breakaway with three riders from GreenEdge and Specialized each.
“I knew I was alone, I knew I was maybe the fastest, I knew I’d have to watch and go with everyone,” Wild said afterwards. “It worked out. I like it here with the wind and straight roads.”
Debutants GreenEdge disappointed
Australian squad GreenEdge were keen to impress on their competitive debut, orchestrating the day’s decisive seven-rider split after 10 kilometres, using the initial whopping crosswinds to fracture the bunch.
“What we did was planned – except the finale,” Arndt, who sits third overall, told CW after the finish. “We tried to attack, but Wild really paid attention and jumped with every move.”
“We had to drop her if you don’t have a sprinter, and we didn’t manage it. We can’t be happy about today, but there’s two more days left.”
The lashing wind made for a brutal re-introduction to racing for the women’s peloton. Sand blew across the road, caking riders’ face and forcing visibility down to 200 metres on the arrow-straight arteries which abound in Qatar.
As sandstorms turned the horizon white, it was like racing in a hermetically-sealed bubble – and Wild’s rivals’ chances of success should have been similarly airtight.
But, after joining a late attack into a headwind which regrouped, Wild got the jump to finish ahead of Specialized-Lululemon pair Chloe Hosking and Ellen Van Dijk in the sprint.
“It looks kind of silly, but we were working all day and Kirsten didn’t have the teammates so obviously she had a bit of an easier ride,” Hosking said. “She’s a really good bike rider.”
Wild, who usually rides for AA Drink-Leontien.nl rather than the Dutch national team, took the silver medal at the World Track Cup omnium in Beijing ten days ago.
Sole British competitor Katie Colclough finished in the peloton, almost fourteen minutes down.
Ladies Tour of Qatar 2012, stage one: Camel Race Track to Al Khor Corniche, 97km
1. Kirsten Wild (Ned) Netherlands in 2-16-50
2. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Specialized-Lululemon
3. Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) Specialized-Lululemon
4. Judith Arndt (Ger) GreenEdge-AIS
5. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-Lululemon
6. Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) GreenEdge-AIS
7. Alexis Rhodes (Aus) GreenEdge-AIS all same time
8. Monia Baccaille (Ita) MCipollini-Giambenini at 2-16
9. Charlotte Becker (Ger) Specialized-Lulelemon
10. Jessie Maclean (Aus) GreenEdge-AIS at same time
77. Katie Colclough (Gbr) Specialized-Lululemon at 13-52
General classification after stage one
1. Kirsten Wild (Ned) Netherlands 2-16-36
2. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Specialized-Lululemon at 8secs
3. Judith Arndt (Ger) GreenEdge-AIS at 9secs
4. Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) Specialized-Lululemon at 10secs
5. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-Lululemon at 11secs