Some of the fastest women in the world are in Doha waiting for the flag to drop on the 2010 season and the second Ladies Tour of Qatar. The event captured the attention of the world last year when it took the over the opening slot from the Women's Tour of New Zealand.
This year there will be 15 teams lining up for the first stage in Doha, seven national teams and eight trade teams making up the 90-rider peloton.
The riders will contest three pancake flat stages which, in theory, should go to the sprinters, but if last year is any indication, the wind and efforts of late breakaway artists could spoil the party for the fast-twitch crowd.
Last year's overall champion Kristin Wild will suit up with #1 on her back, bringing along a strong Cervelo TestTeam to support her in the bunch kicks. Track star Lizzy Armistead, German powerhouse Charlotte Becker and seasoned lead-out riders Regina Bruins, Sarah Düster and Iris Slappendel will help Wild in her quest to repeat the overall win.
They'll have to once again contend with Italian speedster Giorgia Bronzini, who last year powered to two stage victories. It was only Wild's efforts in the intermediate sprint time bonuses which kept Bronzini from the overall win, and one can expect that she'll be more attentive this year. At Bronzini's side will be World Champion Tatiana Guderzo.
Lining up with last year's best young rider is the HTC-Columbia women, who will look to Ellen Van Dijk in the bunch sprints along with the speedy young Australian Chloe Hosking.
Australian Rochelle Gilmore will head up the Lotto Ladies Team, looking for revenge for last year's disastrous first stage where she lost 14 minutes and all hope of an overall victory. She recovered with third and second place finish in the next stages, but left Qatar wanting more.
The Aussie national team will field last year's third placed rider overall, Kristy Broun along with great support from Ruth Corset and Tiffany Cromwell.
There will be no shortage of riders looking to upset the favourites, and the US national team is well stocked with talent. Shelly Olds will be on good form after a winter focusing on the track, and she'll be well supported by Kat Carroll, Lauren Tamayo and Amber Rais.
All of the riders will need to be attentive, as strong crosswinds can rip the peloton to shreds and a single moment of inattention can put paid to their chances for victory.
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