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HTC-Columbia kicks off season in Qatar

New U23 time trial champion Ellen van Dijk (Columbia-HTC) at the Tour of Qatar

New U23 time trial champion Ellen van Dijk (Columbia-HTC) at the Tour of Qatar (Image credit: Gregor Brown)

The women's professional season gets underway on Wednesday with the Ladies Tour of Qatar, a three-day sprinter's race on the  Arabian peninsula. The HTC-Columbia squad will be just one of many teams heading to the Middle East in search of good results.

Topping the list for the German team will be last year's best young rider of the Ladies Tour, Ellen Van Dijk, while new recruit, Chloe Hosking will also look to get in the mix.

Team director Ronny Lauke said that getting some early season results is important to raise the riders' confidence for the rest of the season, and the team will ride hard to win.

"We've got a good group there, it often gets really windy in Qatar but they all know how to ride hard in the gutter and line out the bunch," said team director Ronny Lauke.

"The high winds and fast speeds make Qatar very technical, the riders have got to be well-placed in the peloton and stay focussed all the time.

"The heat's a big factor, too. The latest forecasts say it'll be nearly thirty degrees during the day, which is thirty degrees warmer than most of Europe.That's quite a difference."

HTC-Columbia for Tour of Qatar: Judith Arndt, Noemi Cantele, Chloe Hosking, Emilia Fahlin, Adrie Visser, Ellen Van Dijk