|Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Giorgia Bronzini came tantalisingly close to a second straight podium finish in the Ladies’ Tour of Qatar, as she sprinted to fourth in the final stage between the Sealine Beach Resort and the Doha Corniche. The sprint finish came at the end of the 86.5km stage after the riders from Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling took on the responsibility of chasing down a ten-rider break that had escaped just before halfway.
The stage was won by Argos-Shimano’s Kirsten Wild, as the Dutch sprinter confirmed overall race victory with her third win of the race.
Although she spent most of the race looking after the interests of her teammates, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Lauren Kitchen held on to her tenth place overall in the race, and finished second in the young riders’ classification.
“It was a very good day, ” said Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling directeur sportif Simon Cope. “The team rode very well together to help pull back that group, and then Giorgia finished it off pretty well. I’m pretty pleased really; considering how the week’s gone it’s all been positive, and we rounded it off pretty well today.
“I think the terrain just needed to be a little bit tougher for Giorgia to come through, compared to Kirsten; and Kirsten just sat in all day, whereas Giorgia was doing a bit of work.”
The wind that had played such a big part in the first three stages was much lighter on the fourth and final day, and the peloton stayed together until the first intermediate sprint, in Al Wakra after 38.5km. Shortly afterwards, however, the ten-rider group escaped and, since nobody in it was any threat to Wild’s overall lead, the Dutchwoman’s team was happy to leave it to the rest of the peloton to close it down.
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling decided to take responsibility at this point, with Beatrice Bartelloni, Emily Collins, Lauren Kitchen and Anna-Bianca Schnitzmeier all working hard to bring back the group for Bronzini. As the race arrived in the Qatari capital, Doha, with 36km to go, the gap was at its maximum of 1’25” but, as the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling riders exchanged turns on the front of the peloton, it steadily came down.
On the five laps of the 6km Doha finishing circuit Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling pulled the ten riders back as the Orica-AIS team joined in the chase, and, with just over two laps to go, the race was all together. Argos-Shimano then took over for the final two laps, suppressing several solo attempts to break away; Wild’s overall rival Chloe Hosking of Hitec Products tried to take the stage with an early jump, but the Dutchwoman powered to her third straight win.
Bronzini managed to position herself well in the mêlée behind the Dutchwoman’s wheel, but was just unable to make the podium places as she sprinted for the line. The former World champion also moved up one place in the general classification to eleventh, just behind Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammate Kitchen, and heads to the World Track Championships later this month with confidence.
“It’s all good really,” said Cope, reflecting on the four day race as a whole. “That was the first race for the team. What you’ve got to remember is that Argos-Shimano have been together for a long while, so have Specialized-lululemon and a few of those other teams, so I think Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling gelled pretty well really.”
19. Emily Collins
10. Lauren Kitchen @ 2’15”