The 8th Ladies Tour of Qatar took place last week in Doha, marking Cylance Cycling’s second event of 2016. Teammates Shelley Olds (USA), Alison Tetrick (USA), Valentina Scandolara (ITA), Rachele Barbieri (ITA), Doris Schweizer (SUI) and Sheyla Gutierriez (ESP) fought through crashes and sickness, and produced a solid result as Olds delivered two top-5 stage finishes and 11th GC.
“This edition of the Tour of Qatar was one of the hardest one that I remember,” said director Manel Lacambra. “Every day there was a lot of wind and it makes the race very difficult and more selective. Crashes and sickness inhibited us from having a better final result but we are happy with our performance.”
Qatar, known for its flat stages yet brutal wind, created a strung-out peloton with little opportunity for shelter.
“Racing in Qatar this year was one of the hardest years I remember,” added Shelley Olds. “The weather conditions were windy every day, especially the second and third stages. Everyone was surprised about how much higher the average power files were after the stages. The level of racing was much higher than previous years with many riders in great form. I am happy with how the team raced and I look forward to the next races with my teammates.“
Stage 1 was a 97km stretch that will also be used in the 2016 World Championships in October, and featured the least wind of the four-day event. With no successful break in the peloton, the sprint finish went to former champ Kirsten Wild of Hitec, with Olds coming in 5th.
Stage 2 brought the infamous Middle Eastern wind in full force on the longest stage (120km) from Doha to Al Khor Corniche. After a solo attack from Katrin Garfoot of Orica-AIS, leader Kirsten Wild lost almost four minutes with crashes and mechanical issues. A determined group of 11 riders including Olds fought through the wind and were eventually joined to form a lead group of 26. Olds sprinted to 12th while Wild lost the coveted yellow (“Golden”) jersey.
After the wind of Stage 2 blew the field apart, the start of Stage 3 saw riders line up 20 minutes early for a 112km day. Strategies in place, a break of 13 riders—Olds included—echeloned into the wind and stayed away the entire day. Ellen van Dijk of Boels Dolmans took the win while Trixi Worrack of Canyon-SRAM took over at the helm of general classification. While Olds finish of 9th wasn’t quite the podium she’d hoped for, it marked her as one of the most consistent riders in the tour.
The final stage of 73km to Doha’s waterfront saw a tremendous effort by Coryn Rivera of United Healthcare, but in the end Worrack retained her lead and kept the victory while Olds finished 5th in the sprint and 11th GC. With Olympic qualification on the line, Olds secured valuable UCI points as the highest placing American rider at Qatar. Cylance Pro Cycling’s Sheyla Gutierriez finished 13th in stacked field of the Young Rider classification, ensuring a great future for the team.
“The race was very well organized by ASO,” said Lacambra. “It was another opportunity for us to continue to build our new team for the future.”
With the wind of Qatar behind them, Cylance Pro Cycling has a short break in racing before the team’s spring campaign in Europe begins February 27th.