Dubai: The final stage of the inaugural Dubai Women’s Cycle Tour lived up to expectation providing plenty of action and excitement to bring the event to a thrilling conclusion.
At the end of the four-day event, stage one winner Lucy van der Haar (Hitec Products - Birk Sports) took the Red General Classification honours while also claiming the Sprinter’s green jersey, and the final day’s stage spoils went to Dutch rider Nicole Steigenga (Doltcini-Van Eyck Sport).
Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, was on hand to present the jerseys and trophies to the winners at the post-event awards ceremony.
The four-stage race took place under the patronage of Sheikha Hind Maktoum Bin Juma Al Maktoum, managed by the UAE Cycling Federation, and supported by the Dubai Sports Council.
The fourth and final Dubai Health Authority stage was contested over 112km and started and finished at Dubai Festival City.
With all to play for, the attacks started early but these were easily swallowed up by the peloton each time. The teams were clearly on edge, constantly glancing across to teammates and competing riders, eager to pounce on any opportunity they could.
It was with around 30km to go that the decisive breakaway finally came, five riders – from Team Ciclotel, Doltcini-Van Eyck Sport, Aromitalia Basso Bikes Vaiano, Macogep-Tornatech-Girondins de Bordeaux, and Hitec attacking at just the right time and managing to open up a gap.
The group quickly agreed on a strategy to work together to maintain the gap, and with the peloton bearing down on them in the final kilometre, just managed to hold them off. It was then Steigenga who could still muster some power from tired legs to sprint for the line and take stage honours. Norwegian Amalie Lutro (Hitec) was second and Italy’s Carmela Cipriani (Aromitalia) completed the podium in third.
Van der Haar claimed the first two intermediate sprints to secure vital points. She finished in sixth place on the day, reclaiming the overall leader’s red jersey from stage three winner Tatsiana Sharakova (Minsk Cycling Club) to be crowned the first ever Dubai Women’s Cycle Tour champion.
Explaining how the race unfolded, stage winner Steigenga said: “I think it was with about 30km to go and I actually didn’t expect the breakaway then but I just followed. And at first I tried to really work hard but normally I do too much so I tried to keep it calm and I just went for the sprint at the end there.”
“My team really helped me with the bottles and support and saying I could do it. I’m really happy they gave me this opportunity because we also have a really good sprinter and she gave me the chance to go for the win. It’s really cool to win it,” added the 22-year-old who only joined Doltcini-Van Eyck this year.
A thrilled Van der Haar added: “It was super stressful and there were so many attacks going on. For me it was just a case of giving it everything to try and get that jersey. I managed to win the first two sprints so that gave me quite a lot of confidence. Then there was a breakaway at the end which was pretty dangerous.
“I’m still shocked that we’ve won it. I’m so happy. The girls all rode amazingly well so I just can’t believe that I’ve actually won a stage and a race. Everyone wanted to give it their best shot on the last day, which is understandable, so it made for a hard race,” added the British rider.
Sharakova finished in second spot in the GC and points standings with Team UAE’s stage two winner, Samah Khaled, in third.
20-year-old Colombian Daniela Atehortua Hoyos (Colnago CM Team) retained the White jersey for the best young rider (under-23) with Italian Anastasia Carbonari (Aromitalia) second and Russian Iuliia Galimullina (Cogeas Mettler Look Pro Cycling Team) third in that classification. Britain’s Annabel Fisher (Cogeas Mettler Look Pro Cycling Team) also held onto the Pink Climber’s jersey, with Olha Kulynych (Team Ciclotel) second and Marcela Prieto Castaneda (Agolico BMC) third.
As for the team positions, Tour winner Van der Haar’s Hitec Products - Birk Sports team finished on top with Minsk Cycling Club in second and Aromitalia Basso Bikes Vaiano in third.