Ladies Tour of Qatar 2009
Qatar Foundation - Oryx Farm, 109km
The race took a long time to get going on this second stage of the Tour of Qatar. The only action early on was some hard braking at the back of the bunch in a couple of places where the road narrowed. A fall mid-bunch involved Janel Holcomb (USA) and Loes Markerink (Team Flexpoint). The latter was unhurt and quickly back on her bike, whilst Holcomb sustained a nasty cut to her elbow and was transported to hospital for treatment.
It wasn't until the race turned a sharp left with about 40km to go that a break was attempted. Kath Carroll (USA) escaped and managed to get a gap of 14 seconds, but with the intermediate sprint point looming, she was never going to stay away alone. The sprint about 4km later was taken by Kirsten Wild (Cervelo), protecting her lead in the sprints competition.
The bunch split into three groups between the first and second sprints (which were separated by 22 kilometres). The leaders maintained a 40 seconds gap for much of the time, until the second group fought its way back to them with some aggressive chasing.
After the second sprint, which was won by Kirsty Broun (Australia), Eva Lutz (Équipe Nürnberger) and Veronica Andreasson (Team Bigla) attacked and gained a small advantage over the chasers. With just twelve kilometres to go, the pair worked hard together to stay away.
As the race entered the final 3 km, the bunch was pulling the pair of leaders back. By the time the leaders reached line they were just 14 seconds behind. Eva Lutz began the sprint about 200m away, accelerating across the road from right to left. Andreasson was on her wheel and not about to give in. However, Lutz was accelerating and digging deep. Every few pedal strokes, she lifted her head higher, straining to take in the air and to see the finish line. With about 25 metres to go, the German realised she was going to win, she made sure of her victory and began her salute just a few metres before the line.
Rochelle Gilmore (Lotto) led the bunch sprint, ahead of Wild and Kirsty Broun (Australia). Wild had done enough to keep the silver, sprints, jersey. Although stage 2 race leader, Giorgia Bronzini finished fifth, Wild had done enough to gain 'bonifications'; time bonuses out on the course, to take the overall lead.
Ellen van Dijk (Team Columbia) maintained the under 25 competition and Wild the sprints competition.
Going into the final stage of the 2009 event, Wild has a 6 second gap over Bronzini and 14 seconds over both van Dijk and Broun. The final stage, 109km could see some tactical racing by the teams to line up any of these three for the overall win.
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