Ellen van Dijk and Lizzie Armitstead provided a master-class in cross-wind racing on stage 2 of the Ladies Tour of Qatar, turning the race on its head and setting up the Boels Dolmans team for a realistic shot at winning the overall.
The pair instigated the initial 16-rider move in the opening kilometres, distancing race leader Annalisa Cucinotta (Ale Cipollini), before turning the screw by eliminating all but four other rivals with another attack.
Van Dijk went onto claim the stage with Armistead finishing in third. Van Dijk now leads the race with two stages remaining, with Armitstead second at four seconds, and Trixi Worrack (Velocio SRAM) and Chloe Hosking (Wiggle Honda) at seven seconds.
“The second attack was earlier than expected, but we set it up together, and that was really cool. It’s great when you have such great teamwork together. It’s great when it works out like this,” Van Dijk told the press after the win.
Armitstead finished the stage in third place, and remains well in contention for a podium place and a shot at the overall, should her teammate falter or lose out in bonus seconds.
“We realised that the group was too big really and there were too many sprinters still around. GreenEdge had four, we had two so we spoke together and we thought that if we attack we had to give it full on that cross-wind section. It was a bit of a shock that it worked,” she said as she enjoyed a well deserved post-race recovery drink with her teammate.
“Lizzie has a really good sprint so I knew we could count on her for the sprint and she said to go in the last kilometre and come from the back.”
The pair extended their race teamwork into their post race analysis for the media: “Once Ellen has a gap it’s impossible to bring her back,” Armitstead added.
“People say how do you feel about being in such a strong team will you get your own chances but you always get more chances when you’re in a strong team because things like this happen.”