Posted on February 03, 2011

Rochelle Gilmore (Lotto Honda Team) has followed on from her successful Australian season by winning the first stage of the Ladies Tour of Qatar 2011 between Camel Race Track and Dukhan on Wednesday.

The Commonwealth champion outsprinted the rest of a fifteen-rider group that had detached from the front of the peloton, beating World champion Giorgia Bronzini (Italy) into second place, with fellow Australian Chloe Hosking (HTC-Highroad) into third.

"I picked Giorgia's wheel and just gave it everything in the final 100 metres," a delighted Gilmore said after pulling on the race leader's jersey.

Rochelle Gilmore poses after winning the first stage of the Ladies Tour of Qatar yesterday. At right is Qatar Cycling Federation president Sheikh Khalid bin Ali al-Thani

The peloton stayed together for the first half of the 94.5km stage, which started in the centre of the country, heading north, then south west to finish on the west coast. The first sprint, at Sub Station, after 39km, was taken by Bronzini, ahead of Gilmore and Suzanne De Goede (Skil-Koga). With the race often decided by bonus seconds it was round one to the World champion.

At the second sprint, at Al Jemailiya after 54km, the peloton was still complete; the sprint was taken by Kirsty Broun (Australia) ahead of Gilmore again, with Martine Bras (Netherlands) in third.

"I just went out there and contested those sprints," Gilmore said. "I didn't win one, but I felt really good so that gave me confidence for the finish."

Soon after the sprint Veronica Andreasson (Lotto Honda) managed to escape the peloton, just as she did on the opening stage of last year’s race, managing to get 13 seconds ahead. It was all in vain for the Swedish rider though, with the flat desert roads offering little opportunity for a lone rider and she was caught with just over 25km to go.

A few kilometres later Valentina Bastianelli (Vaiano Solaristech) tried her luck with a lone attack, but her effort was also in vain.

On a slight rise on the approach to Dukhan an attack from Iris Slappendel (Garmin-Cervélo) caused a group of twelve riders to detach from the front of the peloton. The group contained Gilmore, Bronzini and Hosking, with Bras, De Goede and Valentina Scandolara (Gauss); Hosking was supported by HTC-Highroad teammates Ellen Van Dijk and Charlotte Becker and also present was the Garmin-Cervélo duo of Noemi Cantele and Lucy Martin, as well as MCipollini-Giordana pair Nicole Cooke and Rossella Callovi.

With virtually all of the top teams represented the group managed to open a gap over the rest of the peloton and, despite being isolated from her team, Gilmore managed to take the sprint.

Result stage 1:

1. Rochelle Gilmore (Aus) Lotto Honda Team

2. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Italian National Team

3. Chloe Hosking (Aus) HTC-Highroad

4. Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) HTC-Highroad

5. Lucy Martin (GBr) Garmin-Cervélo

6. Martine Bras (Ned) Netherlands National Team

7. Rossella Callovi (Ita) MCipollini-Giordana

8. Charlotte Becker (Ger) HTC-Highroad

9. Suzanne De Goede (Ned) Skil-Koga Cycling Team

10. Noemi Cantele (Ita) Garmin-Cervélo

His Excellency,  Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al-Thani, President of Qatar Cycling Federation (QCF) confirmed on Wednesday that the first stage of Ladies Tour of Qatar 2011 was held successfully without any obstacles.

QCF chief appreciated the organizational efforts done by police men to secure the road until the finish point.