With still conditions throughout stage 1 of the Ladies Tour of Qatar on Tuesday Lizzie Armitstead and her Boels Dolmans Cycling Team were forced to ride to a prescription of restraint and measured aggression.
The team, entering the race with Armitstead and Ellen Van Dijk as overall contenders, were unable to improvise or dictate the pace with a lack of cross-winds to exploit, but the stage was still a relative success with Armitstead picking up several valuable bonus seconds and finishing the day eight seconds off the overall pace set by stage winner Annalisa Cucinotta (Ale Cipollini).
“Well the final sprint didn’t go very well. It was a really stop, start day and unfortunately the wind wasn’t there, which we need as a team,” Armitstead told Cyclingnews after finishing the stage in 12th position.
“We thought that we’d go for me in the sprint if we could and we tried to get organised. The girls on the team were fantastic but the final was a bit more technical that we expected.”
“When there’s roundabouts you have the girls who are dropped taking risks by cutting the roundabout just to get back into the mix. That made it really dangerous but I was just happy to stay upright to be honest.”
Without the hope of cross-winds Boels Dolmans went on the front foot in the intermediate sprints. Armitstead was third at both intermediates, providing her with what could be a handy two seconds at the end of the four-day event on Friday.
“It’s more that we don’t want to lose the overall because of a couple of seconds. Whether it’s to protect me or to protect Ellen later on in the race, we’ll see,” she told Cyclingnews.
“The race could have been lost today but not won and we just want an aggressive race. We want the wind. Without that there’s not much we can do here. We’re marked riders so if I’m going to attack up the road there’s no way 80 riders are going to let me go.”