The UAE Tour Women kicked off today with a relatively steady flat stage that was always expected to come down to a sprint finish. The early-season nervousness saw a good number of crashes as wind and wide roads combined to create a twitchy peloton. A couple of times echelons were threatening to split up the peloton but they didn’t last long enough for the splits to become permanent. A crash at 3.8km to go and another just within 3km impacted the final, including pre-stage favourite Lorena Wiebes, so that when we reached the sprint Charlotte Kool was able to sprint past her former team leader after going unscathed through the drama.
The stage was 109km long from Port Rashid to Dubai Harbour, with no climbs of note during the day. An early crash saw one rider abandon and brought down Silvia Persico but she was quickly back on her bike again. The wind claimed its biggest split around 20km later, with a group including Pauliena Rooijakkers, Hannah Barnes, Thalita de Jong and Marthe Truyen were off the back and needing to chase. As the peloton changed direction, the group were able to reconnect with the convoy and get back to the main bunch.
The first intermediate sprint of the race saw Agnieszka Skalniak-Sójka take the points and bonus seconds ahead of Nina Kessler and Chiara Consonni. A couple more attempts, mainly by Trek Segafredo to force echelons came to nothing serious. The second intermediate sprint was won by Liane Lippert who snuck past the UAE Team ADQ train that was trying to engineer Silvia Persico to some bonus seconds.
Then the crash at 3.8km to go. Lorena Wiebes had a rider go down in front of her but was back on the back cyclocross style and able to chase back on. Behind her, there was a bunch of riders unable to join back in including Alice Barnes and Ilaria Sanguineti. A second crash a kilometre later affected Elisa Longo Borghini but not too badly, it served to interrupt the sprint trains even more.
SD Worx was able to pull back through the peloton, with Lonneke Uneken driving forward. As she peeled off, Anniina Ahtosalo of Uno-X attacked to try and catch the bunch unaware but to no avail. What it did do though was start Barbara Guarischi’s lead out maybe 50 metres too early. As she tired, Lorena Wiebes was forced to come through but it was Charlotte Kool who came through the fastest and comfortably took the honours on the finish line.
“I really can’t believe it. This is what I trained really hard for. Things didn’t even go as planned in the final. There were a lot of falls and it was chaotic. We lost a few strong riders, but we managed to switch in time.
In the last straight line there was a miscommunication with a teammate, but I still had a very good sprint in my legs and was able to make up for it. I didn’t look at Lorena in the sprint, by the way. I did my own thing. It is very nice to beat her. I’m also happy with how we rode today. We always rode well together at the critical moments. I gained the confidence of the team and that gave me wings.”Charlotte Kool
“A rider in front of me fell just in front of my front wheel. Dodging was impossible at that speed, so I was brought down. I don’t think I’ve ever been back on my bike so quickly. A fall like that always takes energy. I also feel now that I fell and it will be stiff tomorrow. The adrenaline might help me to still win a stage in the coming days.
After the fall I was back in Barbara Guarischi’s wheel pretty quickly. The lead-out went fine. Femke Markus brought us nicely through the last corner and the timing of the lead-out was also good. Only I fell just that little bit short of strength.”Lorena Wiebes
2023 UAE Tour Women Stage 1 results
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