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Chloe Hosking fourth in Wind-Shattered Tour of Qatar second stage

Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Chloe Hosking took fourth place in the second stage of the 2015 Tour of Qatar, between Al Zubarah Fort and Madinat Al Shamal on the very northern tip of the Qatari Peninsular, as familiar windy conditions returned to the desert race. The Australian was part of a six-rider lead group – along with Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini – which broke away from a larger group that had escaped at the very beginning of the 112km stage.

Ellen van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans) won the stage with a powerful final kilometre attack, with Trixi Worrack (Velocio-SRAM) taking second place, ahead of van Dijk’s teammate Lizzie Armitstead and Hosking, three seconds later.

“I gambled a bit too long and then missed the jump,” Hosking admitted. “In the end I only have myself to blame for not getting stage win or bonus seconds on the finish. I made a mistake.

“It’s been fantastic riding with the girls the last two stages and there’s a great feeling in the team,” she added. “To already have some great results is fantastic and I know we’re just going to get better as we get used to riding together as a team.”

In the opening kilometres a group of 16 riders broke clear in the strong sea breeze and, as they covered almost 41km in the first hour, the group’s lead continued to grow to more than three minutes. Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling was well represented in the group, with Belgian Champion Jolien D’hoore alongside Hosking and Longo Borghini as the race turned inland and traversed the northern end of Qatar to Al Ghariya and back, before starting the first of four laps of a 13.5km circuit.

“That was fantastic,” Hosking said. “To have Elisa and Jolien there was fantastic, and we were riding really well. Then to make that six-rider move was really great.”

Missing from the lead was race leader Annalisa Cucinotta (Alé-Cipollini), who was now in the last group on the road, but her teammate Marta Tagliaferro had made the split and was now the virtual race leader. Hosking took the first sprint, ahead of Tagliaferro and Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) on the second crossing of the finish line with 40km to go. The Australian was now just one second behind the Alé-Cipollini rider with one more intermediate sprint, and the stage finish to come.

On the next lap the leading group split in two, with Hosking and Longo Borghini both getting into the new group of six. Once clear, the six riders quickly opened up a lead of more than a minute over the others; with Tagliaferro left behind, Hosking was now the virtual race leader on the road.

Hosking took third in the second sprint, with one lap to go, behind Armitstead and Johansson, but remained virtual leader as the six riders headed into the final kilometres of the stage. When van Dijk made her move with just 700 metres to go, however, the former Time Trial World Champion was able to stay clear and take the stage, despite the best efforts of Longo Borghini to pull her back.

Time bonuses on the line meant that 2011 race winner van Dijk took the leader’s Gold Jersey, while Hosking moves up to fourth place overall, just seven seconds behind her.

D’hoore took the sprint for seventh place, 1’57” behind the winner, meaning that Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling has taken a sizeable lead in the Teams Classification.

“It was disappointing that I couldn’t get any time bonuses at the finish,” Hosking said. “That was my bad. We just have to go back to the drawing board and see what we’re going to do, but we definitely have a team for this sort of situation. We’ve got three fast girls and three really, really dedicated workers, so it’s a perfect team for this situation. So let’s make the most of it in these two stages.

“The duo of Lizzie and Ellen is going to be hard to beat but we’re going to give our best shot,” she added. “There’s still two more stages to go so it’s not over yet.”

1. Ellen van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans)
2. Trixi Worrack (Velocio-SRAM)
3. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans)
4. Chloe Hosking (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)

6. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
7. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)

Photo credit: Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos

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