Kirsten Wild won the final stage of the three-day ladies’ Tour of Qatar today, earning her first place overall. She Ã‚Â retains her 2009 title and the CervÃƒÂ©lo Test Team has its first race victory, early in the 2010 season.
Giorgia Bronzini of the Italian National Team was leading the GC by four seconds going into the final day, but, as Kirsten explains on the CervÃƒÂ©lo website: “Ã‚Â I was able to close that gap in the intermediate sprints. Then I knew that it all depended on the last sprint. My teammates did an incredibly good job in the final. They brought me into the perfect position and I was able to win the sprint.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Those teammates unfortunately did not include Lizzie Armitstead, the 21-year-old British rider in her debut season as a pro, who crashed out during the first day. However, team medics said her injuries weren’t serious and expect her to be back on her bicycle and training next week.
The notoriously windy Tour of Qatar must be a shock to riders just testing their legs in the new season Ã¢â‚¬â€œ just think of last year’s images of the men’s race echeloned across the tarmac in fierce sidewinds and desert heat. The ladies this year benefited from a tailwind for much of stage one; when the wind turned against them, however, the field split and Kirsten Wild was fortunate to stay in the leading bunch. The second stage, where Kirsten placed fourth, sneaking up on Bronzini’s shoulder in the GC, was so blowy and progress so slow that the organisers reduced its distance from 107 to just 86km.
Nevertheless, with Eddy MerckxÃ‚Â singing its praises, and many of the peloton’s big dogs Ã¢â‚¬â€œ including Bradley Wiggins, Fabian Cancellara, Tyler Farrar and Tom Boonen, looking to bag his thrid successive victory Ã¢â‚¬â€œ lining up for the men’s race that starts this Sunday, it looks destined to become firmly fixed in the early-season calendar. Check Eurosport and Versus for TV coverage in Europe and the U.S.