(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Experienced Dutch rider Ellen Van Dijk yesterday produced a slick performance, winning stage two of the Ladies Tour of Qatar where she now proudly holds the golden jersey with two days to go in the race.
The Boels Dolmans team star was joined by British team-mate Lizzie Armitstead who finished in third spot as the riders completed the longest route of the four-day race at the finish line in Madinat Al Shamal.
Germany's Trixi Worrack brought delight in the Velocio Sram camp by finishing behind Van Dijk by three seconds in the 112.5km stage that kicked off at the iconic Al Zubarah Fort in the north of the country.
Exhibiting powerful riding in heavy crosswinds, Van Dijk clocked a time of 2 hours 39 minutes and 21 seconds to take her place of pride. It was the Dutch rider's second golden jersey in Qatar where she emerged as a champion in the 2011 edition of the race. The 27-year-old former world time trial champion holds a four-second lead over Armitstead and is ahead of Worrack by seven seconds.
"We were hoping for wind today, we know we have a better chance in those conditions," said Van Dijk, who won the tour in 2011, said.
"They said there was not going to be enough wind today, but there was," the Dutch rider added.
Armitstead said: "We realised the group was too big € we spoke together, and said that we would attack and give it full on the crosswind section."
In a consistent performance, Australia' Chloe Hosking of Wiggle-Honda finished yesterday's stage in fourth spot. The 24-year-old Bendigo-born rider is fourth in the general classification after two days. Sweden's Emma Johansson, riding for Orica - AIS, completes the top five riders in the general classification with just two days to go. Johansson finished fifth in yesterday's hard-fought stage.
As expected, stage two was hotly contested by the riders who were greeted by strong crosswinds outside the walls of the imposing Al Zubarah Fort. Part of the first group of 16 riders that dropped down to 6 members in the final moments, Van Dijk claimed her second stage win in the peninsula after surging in the last kilometre.
The 85 remaining riders took off for stage two battle at 1:40pm for the longest stage of the event :112.5kms heading north to Madinat Al Shamal. At the 7-kilometre mark, the pack, under the influence of the crosswinds, broke up into several groups. Overnight golden jersey owner Annalisa Cucinotta (ALE), failed to keep up with the pace and dropped as a group of 16 riders pulled away.
Among the front group were the likes of Amy Pieters (TLP) winner in Madinat last year, Hosking (WHT), Johansson (GWT), Amitstead, Van Dijk (both DLT), Brand (RBW) and Worrack (VEL). Their advantage rapidly reached 50 seconds at the 12-km mark.
After a first loop around Madinat Al Shamal, the front group crossed the finish line for the first time with a 2 minute 55-second lead. Four laps of a small circuit remained to be covered. The leaders would no longer be worried about the chasing bunches as they made it to the first intermediate sprint (72)km with an impressive 3 minute 55-second advantage. That sprint was claimed by Hosking ahead of team-mate Marta Tagliaferro (ALE) and Johansson.
The second bonus sprint (4th crossing, 99km) was the scene of another intense battle: Armitstead eventually secured three precious seconds ahead of Johansson and Hosking while the group remained 1'35 adrift.
Counting on the presence of her team-mate Armitstead, Van Dijk gave it another go just after the final kilometre mark.
Making the best of her impressive power, the Dutch rider would never be caught and made it victoriously to the line.
Italian Beatrice Bartelloni owns the Pearl White jersey for the best young rider.
Today's third stage starts from Doha's top tourist destination Soqu Waqif and ends at Al Khor Corniche around 4:30pm.