The Ladies Tour of Qatar may have been the start of the season, but for some it came to a rather abrupt stop for an unfortunate few. Fourth place overall coming into the day, Australian Rochelle Gilmore (Lotto), and former overall leader and best young rider Rasa Leleivyte (Safi Pasta) lost hopes of improving their placing due to a crash in the final sprint today.
The wreck was just one of several in a week that started with Amben Rais crashing out before the start and ended with the high-speed crash in the final metres of the final stage on the Doha Corniche. In between other riders went down on stage two, including Lizzie Armistead (Cervelo Test Team) and Katherine Carroll (USA).
The official race communique ruled that 12 riders were involved on the final stage crash, and they were all given the same time for the stage because the crash happened inside the final three kliometres.
The crash in the final metres of the final stage happened as the Cervelo Test Team worked to lead out eventual overall winner Kirsten Wild. Behind them several riders touched wheels and pedals ripped out spokes, causing several riders to crash.
HTC-Columbia rider Chloe Hoskings was not among the 12 listed on the communique, but she hit the ground hard and was taken to hospital. Fortunately she did not suffer any serious injuries and should be well enough to set off on her long journey home to Australia.
Cyclingnews diarist Liz Hatch and Lotto teammate Gilmore were both caught up in the crash. Gilmore did not fall, but her forward progress was halted when another rider's pedal ripped out several spokes in her wheel. Hatch was unluckier and hurt her wrist as she landed. Initial suspicions of fractured wrist seem incorrect but Hatch is suspected to have broken at least one finger in her right hand.
The Safi-Pasta Zara team were perhaps the unluckiest team in the crash. Stage one winner Rasa Leleivyte, Lorena Foresi, Eleonora Patuzzo and Marina Romoli were all involved. None were seriously injured but the crash wrecked Leleivyte's hopes of contesting the sprint. She did hold onto the best young rider's prize, however, since the fall happened within the final 3km, giving her the same finishing time as the winner.
Missing out on all the action after her pre-race wreck, Rais explained to Cyclingnews that she hit a reflector on the road wrong during training and crashed on her hip. "It seemed like a pretty minor, stupid crash, until I couldn't get up," Rais said. X-rays and a CT scan showed a crack in her pelvis.
"Thankfuly, it's a non-displaced fracture, so does not require surgery. For the moment I am on strict bed rest orders from the good folks at Aspetar."
Rais said the treatment she has been getting at the state-of-the-art Sports Medicine Facility, Aspetar, has been excellent, and she's received daily visits from the Qatar Cycling Federation and Olympic Commitee to make sure she is taken care of and to help coordinate transport back to her home in Austria.