February 05, 2015 (Al Khor Corniche, Qatar) – After the intense battle of the previous day in the north of Qatar, stage 3 of the Ladies Tour of Qatar was just as exciting. The battle between the favourites started after 50 kilometres of racing and eventually around thirty riders remained together for the final sprint in Al Khor. Fastest on the corniche was Great Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead. Winner of last year’s UCI World Cup and Commonwealth Gold medallist, the Boels Dolmans rider not only claims her first ever success in Qatar, she also conquers the overall leader’s Golden Jersey.
For the first time in its 7-year history, the Ladies Tour of Qatar took off from the Souq Waqif in central Doha for stage 3 of the event. A picturesque start for the 85 remaining riders who took off just after 2 o’clock for a 93.5-km rider heading north. It would be a tough day for the ladies, having to fight against the head wind for most of the day.
As soon as the first kilometre, Alison Tetrik (OPW) was the first to try her luck. The American enjoyed a slim 45″ advantage at km 5 but there wasn’t much she could do alone against the wind and the chasing pack. She was to be caught 6 kilometres later. At km 26, China’s Ya Nan Liu (GPC) was the next to give it a go. A vain solo effort that only lasted a little over 4 kilometres.
Time had come for the first intermediate sprint of the day at km 44.5. While the pack was shaken by a crash, Chloe Hosking (WHT) proved to be the fastest to the line, beating Armitstead (DLT) and D’Hoore (WHT). Just after the sprint, 34 riders pulled away but things calmed down before the second sprint as the pack bunched up again. Again, Hosking flew to the line, clinching an extra 3 bonus seconds as she beat Bronzini (WHT) and Johansson (GWT). At that moment of the stage, Hosking had virtually moved up to second spot overall, just a second behind Golden Jersey Ellen Van Dijk (DLT).
As the pack turned right and started heading south towards Al Khor, the main favourites powered away. Fourteen ladies gathered together at the front including seven of the top ten riders in the GC. In the closing moments of the stage, despite the attempts of several riders, around thirty girls bunched up again with just under three kilometres to go. Victory was to be decided in a royal bunch sprint.
Well helped out by her Boels Dolmans team mates, Lizzie Armitstead went on to capture her very first victory on Qatari soil. The Brit who had finished second of the stage finishing in Al Khor last year (behind Wild) beat USA’s Shelley Olds (BCT) and Lucinda Brand (RBW) to the line. Silver medallist at the London Olympics and Gold medallist last year at the Commonwealth Games, Armitstead now conquers the overall leader’s Golden Jersey. With one stage to go in the event, the Brit can enjoy an 8″ lead over her team mate Ellen Van Dijk and 9″ over Chloe Hosking. As well as the GC, Armitstead also leads the points classification (Silver Jersey) while Beatrice Bartelloni (ALE) remains the best young rider (Pearl White Jersey).
1. Elizabeth Armitstead (Gbr) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 2:27:45
2. Shelley Olds (USA) Bigla Cycling Team
3. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team
4. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda
5. Pascale Jeuland (Fra) Team France
6. Lauren Kitchen (Aus) Hitec Products
7. Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Wiggle Honda
8. Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Ale Cipollini
9. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica – AIS
10. Barbara Guarischi (Ita) Velocio – SRAM
47. Leah Kirchmann (Can) Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefits Stragegies 2:33
75. Joelle Numainville (Can) Bigla Pro Cycling 6:49
GC after Stage 3
1. Elizabeth Armitstead (Gbr) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 7:35:24
2. Eleonora Van Dijk (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 0:08
3. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda 0:09
4. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Velocio – SRAM 0:15
5. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica – AIS 0:17
6. Jolien D’Hoore (Bel) Wiggle Honda 2:14
7. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Velocio – SRAM 2:15
8. Pascale Jeuland (Fra) Team France
9. Amy Pieters (Ned) Team Liv – Plantur
10. Gracie Elvin (Aus) Orica – AIS 2:23
43. Leah Kirchmann (Can) Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 14:00
63. Joëlle Numainville (Can) Bigla Pro Cycling 18:24