GreenEdge-AIS impress in Qatari deserts baptism of fire

GreenEdge-AIS’ performance at the Ladies Tour of Qatar was always going to be a bellwether moment for the predominantly Australian squad.

The Jayco Bay Classic series, the Australian Road National championships and the Santos Women’s Cup had all been unblemished success stories. But even the team would admit that the level of competition there would be incomparable to what they were expecting in Europe, and in their first race in Qatar.

Dave McPartland was thus a justly proud director at the finish to stage 1 of the race, with the GreenEdge-AIS women placing three riders; Judith Arndt, Alex Rhodes and Loes Gunnewijk in the decisive seven-rider break, and setting the team up well for a strong bid at the general classification.

"The depth of the field here is a higher quality than what we faced in January in Australia," admitted McPartland. "That said, I’m especially impressed with how the team rode together today.

"They split the race and put three riders in the top seven. In Australia, we could dictate the entire race. Here, we can’t really do that, but we rode in a really, really good position."

Kirsten Wild (Netherlands) won the stage, with Specialized-lululemon's Chloe Hosking and Elen Van Dijk completing the top three.

McPartland said the team would be chasing the bonus seconds on offer over the next few days to improve the positions of Arndt, Rhodes and Gunnewijk. The race can likely only be won now by one of 19 riders, and GreenEdge-AIS have five in that group. Though they missed the win today, there's nothing to suggest the team won't be standing on the top step of the GC podium in two days time in Katara.

"We missed the stage podium today, which is disappointing, but as we saw, the team is strong and in a good position to make their mark on this race," said McPartland. "We have the strength and the numbers to race aggressively over the next two days and that’s what we plan to do."

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Alex Hinds, Production Editor

Sydney, Australia

Follow @al_hinds

Alex Hinds is a graduate of Economics and Political Science from Sydney University. Growing up in the metropolitan area of the city he quickly became a bike junkie, dabbling in mountain and road riding. Alex raced on the road in his late teens, but with the time demands of work and university proving too much, decided not to further pursue full-time riding.

If he was going to be involved in cycling in another way the media seemed the next best bet and jumped at the opportunity to work in the Sydney office of Cyclingnews when an offer arose in early 2011.

Though the WorldTour is of course a huge point of focus throughout the year, Alex also takes a keen interest in the domestic racing scene with a view to helping foster the careers of the next generation of cycling.

When not writing for Cyclingnews Alex is a strong proponent of the awareness of cyclists on the road in Sydney having had a few close run-ins with city traffic in the past.