Having already shown some early season form in Australia at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic in January and the St Kilda Super Crit in December which she won, Chloe Hosking (Hitec Products) is targeting the sixth edition of the Ladies Tour of Qatar (4-7 February). The Australian sprinter lost the race lead in the season opening event last year after puncturing in the final kilometre of the third stage and had to settle for second overall behind Dutch star Kirsten Wild (Liv Shimano).
"Qatar has been a huge focus for me ever since I lost the jersey last year," Hosking said who continues with Hitec Products in 2014.
"I've had a really good summer in Australia and have been able to use races like the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic as preparation. The team has just finished up a ten day camp in Benidorm, Spain where we got some really good specific prep in so I'm hoping to try and improve on my result from last year," she said.
"I'm really confident in the team and most of all I'm excited to get the international season of racing underway with one of my favourite races," she said.
Hitec Products team manager Karl Lima said Hosking is one year stronger and is confident that she has the right team and setup to finish one better in the general classification.
"Chloe is one year stronger and returns with Thea Thorsen and Tone Hatteland Lima who raced with the team in Qatar last year, they have experience and race knowledge," Lima said.
"We've added Emilie Moberg to the team line-up this year after she missed the race last year due to illness, she is strong in this style of racing. New riders Lauren Kitchen and Audrey Cordon also really strengthen the squad.
"This is our 'sprint squad'," he said.
The race is known as a race for the sprinters and is characterised by its windy and flat conditions which often lead to fast forming echelons and even faster bunch finishes.
In 2013 the event was increased from three to four days not wanting to change a winning formula and exciting racing, the event remains four days in 2014.
Held immediately before the six day Men's Tour of Qatar the event is organised by the ASO and is growing every year. It is testament to the growth of women's cycling both in Qatar (which recently announced the formation of a 22-rider women's development cycling team leading up to the Qatar 2016 World Championships) and around the globe.
Lima says it's the most competitive field he's seen assembled for the Ladies Tour. "It’s the toughest field I have ever seen in Qatar, there are so many strong teams with potential winners," Lima said.
"I will be really happy if we can get something out of the race," he said.
Hitec Products team for Ladies Tour of Qatar: Audrey Cordon, Tone Hatteland Lima, Chloe Hosking, Lauren Kitchen, Emilie Moberg and Thea Thorsen.