UAE, Dubai, Monday, 17th February 2020 – Lucy van der Haar powered her way into the history books by winning the opening stage of the first ever Dubai Women’s Cycle Tour today.
The 99km opening stage got under way with riders from the 17 participating international teams setting off from Dubai Festival City. The flat course then took the teams out into the desert before looping back to the finish in a thrilling sprint for honours at Nshama Town Square Dubai, the new mega-project on Al Qudra Road.
The UAE national team’s Samah Khaled was in it right to the finish, but Van der Haar edged in front for the win. That means the double junior world road race champion will also be wearing the overall general classification leader’s red jersey in tomorrow’s second stage.
“I think everyone was pretty nervous because it was the first race of the season so it was more about seeing how the legs felt,” said the British rider afterwards. “We decided as a team not to go for the intermediate sprint and it was a bit of a risk but the team did amazingly chasing everything down.
“In the last five km, there was quite a headwind so we waited and waited and then the last 2km we came through. The girls did an amazing lead-out and I just left it to the last minute to try to sprint round so I’m very happy.”
Minsk Cycling Club’s 2012 Olympian Tatsiana Sharakova finished in second spot with the home team providing plenty of cause for celebration as Khaled secured a podium spot in third. With that the Emirati star secured second spot overall thanks to her performance during the intermediate sprints.
“Thanks to God today was a good race,” said Team UAE coach Ibrahim Al Falamazri. The start of the tour was a sprint stage. The plan was to get the green jersey and win the stage but everything was good.
“What happened is the chain dropped in the last metres of the sprint, but we finished third so that’s very good for us,” added the coach.
There were several attempted breakaways during the flat, fast stage, but they were quickly reeled in by the peloton on each occasion, bringing it all down to the bunch sprint at the finish. Van der Haar’s Hitec Products - Birk Sports team set her up perfectly for the win.
In addition to holding the overall lead, Van der Haar also assumed the green sprinters’ jersey while 18-year-old Italian rider Sofia Collinelli (daughter of Olympic gold medallist Andrea Collinelli) was the best young rider and will be wearing the U23 white jersey in tomorrow’s second stage.
The four-stage event is taking place under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Hind Maktoum Bin Juma Al Maktoum, managed by the UAE Cycling Federation, and supported by the Dubai Sports Council.
Top-class cycling action continues tomorrow with the 106km Dubai Duty Free second stage. That will take riders from the start at Dubai Festival City and out past the famous Nad Al Sheba racecourse. It’s expected to be another speedy one for the sprinters who’ll look to dominate at the finish at Emaar’s the Springs Souk.
Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman & CEO, Colm McLoughlin said, "The calibre of cyclist on show in the inaugural Dubai Women’s Tour is evident through what was a thrilling stage one today and we congratulate the stage-winner and leading jersey-holders. We look forward to seeing these talented ladies contest the Dubai Duty Free Stage 2 tomorrow as they, once again, race across Dubai.”