Johansson fifth overall at Ladies Tour of Qatar

Fri 6 Feb 2015

Fifth place on the final stage has secured Swedish champion Emma Johansson fifth overall at the Ladies Tour of Qatar.

The battle at the top of the table was fierce and the value of intermediate sprints high, again preventing any opportunity for ORICA-AIS to break the race apart.

In the final it was Lizzie Armitstead who was too strong again in the sprint, taking her second consecutive stage win and locking in the overall victory.

Sport director Martin Barras provides us his report on stage four action: 

In the name of the Shamal, most gracious and most merciless!

We today have assembled, in the East, at Sealine
And rode the path he has traced, northbound
In fear of him and reliance of him
For he shows the way and provides for us

That about sums it up for today. The stage from Sealine to Doha was marked by a solid Shamal (north wind) which effectively turned the race into a long slow procession into Doha, a battle for seconds in the intermediate and final sprints between race leader Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans) and Chloe Hosking (Wiggle Honda) in which Armitstead prevailed and won the stage and the Tour and a chance for all to put on a show on the splendid Doha Corniche. 

As GC was pretty much locked up for us we focused all our efforts into the final two laps (12 km) on the Corniche and certainly animated the race but in the end we got the usual bunch sprint this stage delivers every year. Emma finished fifth in what was an apt and proper result for us.

But most importantly, on the 75min drive to the start, a few of us were treated to a radio broadcast of the Stories of the Q'ran. Now I am not going to lie: I was left a bit underwhelmed by the broadcast, but nevertheless learned a thing or two about our host country. It's a very unusual place for a bike race but always delivers some extreme form of echelon riding, unusual sights, great food and typical Arab hospitality. This year was no different and delivered a tense race and another experience.

For those of us coming from the Australian summer, we now say goodbye to our summer kits and pull out the cold weather gear as the racing resumes in Europe and the classics season starts in earnest. 

Next stop: Belgium and its cobbles and cold.

Until then.