ORICA-AIS Animates Second Stage of Ladies Tour of Qatar

Thu 31 Jan 2013

ORICA-AIS dominated an animated day of racing at the Ladies Tour of Qatar. The Australian outfit committed to an aggressive race plan that allowed them to put five riders in a lead group of 12. The team maintains three spots in the overall top ten with Gracie Elvin best-placed in second overall, six seconds down on race leader Chloe Hosking (Hitec Products UCK).

“Today we’ve eliminated a few riders from the overall who were better placed after the first stage,” said Sport Director Dave McPartland. “We’ve kept three of our riders high up on the overall. We’re in a bloody good position with Gracie, Tiffany [Cromwell] and Emma [Johansson] in the top ten.”

An early breakaway of three riders escaped from the bunch during the opening kilometres of stage two. The trio  gained a maximum advantage of four minutes. Behind the race leaders an elite chases group formed and began to bridge the gap.

“We put the race in the gutter after kilometre 55,” explained McPartland. “We put five riders in a group of nine. We only missed getting Jessie MacLean in the move. We considered it our job to split the bunch, and we followed the plan nearly perfectly. We had wanted all six of us in the move.”

Hosking, Kirsten Wild (Argos-Shimano), and Specialized-lululemon teammates Ellen Van Dijk and Trixi Worrack made the split ORICA-AIS had forced in the headwind. The nine rider chase group caught the breakaway 30 kilometres from the finish.

“Once the lead group of 12 had formed, our goal was to isolate the other riders in the group,” said McPartland. “We were especially interested in getting rid of Hosking and Wild. If we could get Gracie or Emma or Tiff up the road, that would have been a bonus. Although the first part of our plan, to create that initial split, worked perfectly, we never managed to further split the front group.”

Ahead of the finish, two riders from the early break fell off pace and lost contact with the leaders. Ten riders powered towards the finish together. Shortly after the four kilometre sign, Cromwell jumped from the back of the bunch in an effort to break up the group. Despite three attacks from Cromwell, two from Johansson and one from Spratt, the lead group remained ten strong.

“There was no point in attacking earlier than four kilometres to go,” explained McPartland. “We had a tailwind, and the other riders were fresh from sitting on. When we hit the round-about, that was the right time to start attacking even though it was so close to the finish. Unfortunately, Van Dijk, Wild and Hosking still had fresh legs to respond to every move we tried. In hindsight, we would have been better to keep the race together and set up the sprint for Emma.”

Wild outsprinted Worrack for the stage win. Van Dijk rounded out the podium. Hosking managed fourth ahead of Johansson in fifth. Wild’s win, and the accompanying bonus seconds, allowed her up to leapfrog up the overall into third place, three seconds down on Elvin and nine seconds behind Hosking.

“We’ll keep going tomorrow and the next day until we can crack Chloe and Kirsten,” said McPartland. “It’s up to us to split the race again on stage three.”