Dutch cyclist Ellen van Dijk celebrates after crossing the finish line yesterday. Pictures: Jayaram
By Yash Mudgal /Doha
Former champion Ellen van Dijk of Boels Dolmans claimed stage two at Madinat Al Shamal to take the overall lead in the Ladies Tour of Qatar on a windy day.
The former world time-trial champion Van Dijk made the winning move in the final kilometre as she forced her way clear of the winning six-woman group to win by three seconds.
Trixi Worrack of Velocio-SRAM swept to second spot, just ahead of Van Dijk’s teammate Lizzi Armitstead. Chloe Hosking and Elisa Longo Borghini of Wiggle Honda and Emma Johansson of Orica-AIS rounded out the lead group, which finished almost two minutes clear of the peloton and will surely decide the final overall victory amongst them.
In an impressive move with the finish line still over 400m away, Van Dijk jumped from the tiring group as Hosking and Longo Borghini hesitated and by the time Johansson reacted it was too late. Armitstead dutifully marked any inclination of a counter attack, leaving Van Dijk with a three-second buffer as she crossed the finish line.
Yesterday’s close was in complete contrast to the first stage, which ended in a bunch sprint in sunny conditions.
“We were hoping for wind today, we know we have a better chance in those conditions,” said the 27-yeard-old Van Dijk, who won the tour in 2011.
“They said there was not going to be enough wind today, but there was,” the Dutch rider added after her second stage win on the tour.
The sextet took advantage of the windy conditions and changes in direction in the finale to move clear and they had a lead of one minute with 20 kilometres remaining, an advantage which nearly doubled on the run-in to the line.
Van Dijk won Ronde van Vlaanderen and Boels Ladies Tour last year and now stands four seconds clear of Armitstead on general classification, with Worrack and Hosking each a further three seconds behind.
The favourites made the best of the wind to power off from Al Zubara Fort—the traditional start venue ever since the first ladies tour—and Van Dijk was in the 16-woman front group that formed with the help of crosswinds in the opening 10km.
“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 teammate.
Overnight leader Annalisa Cucinotta conceded her leader’s jersey in the opening 10km of the 112.5km stage which is the longest one.
It was a perfect day for the Boels-Dolmans team and its director Danny Stam agreed on that.
“In the beginning Ellen and Lizzie were in a 16-rider break, but it became perfect when six riders remained in front and they were both there,” said Stam.
“Then we could play the game. Ellen would try to get away and Lizzie was waiting for the sprint. At 700m, Ellen tried for a last time and she succeeded. A great day and a great starting point before the start of stage three. But there are still two days ahead of us, with a battle for the seconds. We are not there yet.”
Sharon Laws of Team Bigla abandoned the tour before it started yesterday from the sandy outskirts of Al Zubarah’s fort due to a broken collarbone resulting from a crash in stage one.
The silver jersey for points classification also switched shoulders and goes to Trixi Worrack while Italian Beatrice Bartelloni claimed the pearl white jersey for the best young rider.
Today’s 93.5km stage three will run from Souq Waqif to Al Khor Corniche.
Results (After Stage 2)
1 Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 2:39:21
2 Trixi Worrack (Ger) Velocio-SRAM 0:00:03
3 Elisabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team
4 Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda
5 Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica – AIS
6 Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle Honda 0:00:09
7 Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Wiggle Honda 0:01:57
8 Valentina Scandolara (Ita) Orica – AIS
9 Amy Pieters (Ned) Team Liv-Plantur
10 Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Velocio-SRAM
1 Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 5:07:47
2 Elisabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 0:00:04
3 Trixi Worrack (Ger) Velocio-SRAM 0:00:07
4 Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda
5 Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS 0:00:10
6 Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle Honda 0:00:27
7 Marta Tagliaferro (Ita) Ale Cipollini 0:02:01
8 Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Wiggle Honda 0:02:07
9 Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Velocio-SRAM
10 Gracie Elvin (Aus) Orica – AIS
1 Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 15pts
2 Trixi Worrack (Ger) Velocio-SRAM 12
3 Elisabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 9
4 Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda 7
5 Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica – AIS 6
6 Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle Honda 5
7 Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Wiggle Honda 4
8 Valentina Scandolara (Ita) Orica – AIS 3
9 Amy Pieters (Ned) Team Liv-Plantur 2
10 Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Velocio-SRAM 1
1 Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda 3pts
2 Marta Tagliaferro (Ita) Ale Cipollini 2
|3 Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica – AIS 1
1 Elisabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 3pts
2 Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS 2
3 Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda 1
1 Wiggle Honda 15:26:00
2 Orica-AIS 0:01:56
3 Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 0:09:03
4 Velocio–Sram 0:11:00
5 Ale Cipollini 0:13:05
Ellen, who took the yellow jersey, with Belgian cycling legend Eddy Merckx. (Right) Italian Beatrice Bartelloni was adjudged the ‘best young rider’ and took the pearl white jersey.
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