Looking back at the last time the women’s peloton raced in the Middle East – the Dubai Women’s Tour 2020

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2020 Dubai Women's Tour Lucy Van der Haar

At the time, the Dubai Women’s Tour was quite a groundbreaking moment. It would be the first time the UCI women’s peloton had raced in the Middle East (although there had been races in Israel, like the Scorpion’s Pass TT), since the 2016 Ladies Tour of Qatar & World Championships that year. The UAE Tour Women this season will be the first Women’s WorldTour race in the Middle East but seems to be airbrushing the previous Dubai Women’s Tour in the process.

Held over 4 stages, 3 flat stages with a GC stage with a summit finish (sounds familiar?), the peloton took on Hatta Dam rather than Jebel Hafeet. Only a 2.2 level race, the lowest a stage race can be on the UCI calendar a motley crew of different teams took part. As a 2.2 race, there were no Women’s WorldTour teams, of which there were only 8 in 2020. So the likes of established European Continental teams such as Doltcini-Van Eyck, Hitec Products-Birk, Andy Schleck Cycles, Aromitalia-Basso Bikes-Vaiano and Ciclotel al took part. Others from further afield like Mexican team Agolico, Russian team Cogeas-Mettler-Look, Belarussian Minsk Cycling Club and Canadian-registered but French-based Macogep Tornatech Girondins de Bordeaux were all on the list too.

From there you also had the French D1 club team DN Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (who included Dilyxine Miermont, now of St Michel-Mavic-Auber93), a Berlin-based club team called Wheel Divas, a Hungarian club team Pannonia and national teams from Kazakhstan, Kuwait and the UAE itself. Despite the name Team UAE, it wasn’t a precursor to what we know today as UAE Team ADQ. The origins of that team lie somewhere between Alé BTC Ljubljana and Colnago-CM in Colombia. Funnily enough, Colango CM was in Dubai racing here as well.

Lucy van der Haar wins Stage 1 of 2020 Dubai Women's Tour
Lucy van der Haar wins Stage 1 of the 2020 Dubai Women’s Tour

Stage 1 was won by British rider Lucy van der Haar in her first victory in 5 years. The former double junior world championships road race winner had started her career strongly but injuries and the demise of Wiggle-High5 had derailed things somewhat since winning a stage of La Route de France in 2015. Van der Haar finished ahead of Tatsiana Sharakova and Samah Khaled, who would be her rivals for the week. In 2020, live TV coverage of a 2.2 race was pretty sparse so it was notable that we got to see most of the racing at the Dubai Women’s Tour. It also meant we got to see some of the organisational mishaps too. The Stage 1 finish photo above shows a very poorly parked van right at the finish line. It was there to deliver some of the finishing videos but definitely needed some sort of barrier to keep riders clear!

Samah Khaled of Team UAE wins Stage 2 but riders (red circle) ended up the wrong side of the barriers

Stage 2 was a similar sprint finish which saw Samah Khaled, in green in the photo above, take victory for Team UAE. Khaled, the winner of the 2018 Dubai edition of the UCI Gran Fondo World Series, subsequently went on to receive a doping ban in 2021. By then she was racing for the newly UCI Dubai Police Cycling Team and also actually working for the Dubai Police but tested positive on 22nd April 2021 for Oxandrolone, an anabolic steroid. According to the UCI, Samah Khaled won’t be able to race again until 10th June 2025. But she keeps her Dubai Women’s Tour results so this win still stands. Kim de Baat was 3rd for Ciclotel and GC rider Tatsiana Sharakova was 4th, missing out on any crucial bonus seconds.

The other thing to note with this finish is that the van had been moved and sort of barriered off to be safer. But the red circle on the right shows riders who had managed to get themselves of the wrong side of the finishing barriers. This was because the race went from a wide road to sliding across the road into one side for the finish line gantry. There was limited warning and no sloping barriers to gradually steer the peloton across but just a line of barriers that started from nowhere. None of the GC riders was affected but it was another interesting organisational feature.

Stage 3 was the major GC deciding day with the short climb up to Hatta Dam. It’s nothing like as tough as Jebel Hafeet will be for the 2023 peloton but it was enough for these riders to have some serious time gaps. Tatsiana Sharakova won the stage ahead of Colnago CM’s Daniele Atehortua Hoyos, who would win the youth jersey at the Dubai Women’s Tour but seems to have fallen out of UCI level cycling at the end of 2021 with the demise of Colnago CM. Lucy van der Haar, just about visible in the photo above in green, finished 3rd. That allowed her to pick up just enough bonus seconds to stay in the lead of the GC. The time between Van der Haar and Sharakova was now equal and the placings across the 3 stages decided the lead. Van der Haar’s 1st-2nd-3rd finishes were slightly better than Sharakova’s 2nd-4th-1st finishes.

Nicole Steigenga wins in Dubai Tour UAE 2020
Nicole Steigenga wins Stage 4 of the Dubai Women’s Tour

So onto the deciding Stage 4. Nicole Steigenga took her 2nd and currently most recent UCI victory for Doltcini-Van Eyck after taking her traditional late flyer. Hitec Products-Birk’s Amalie Lutro was 2nd, performing a job to take away bonus seconds from the GC battle. Carmela Cipriani of Aromitala-Basso Bikes-Vaiano took away the final bonus seconds in 3rd. Also of note, finishing on the same time, was Olivia Baril. The Canadian was then on Macogep Tornatech Girondins de Bordeaux but after spells on Massi-Tactic and Valcar, now finds herself riding for UAE Team ADQ as things have come full circle.

With the bonus seconds taken care of, the GC would be decided on the final finishing positions in this sprint. Sara van de Vel of Ciclotel finished a couple of seconds behind Steigenga but it was Lucy van der Haar who brought the main bunch home in 6th place and 7 seconds behind the winner. Samah Khaled was 7th and the GC-deciding finish of Tatsiana Sharakova in 8th. That meant that Lucy van der Haar won the 2020 Dubai Women’s Tour by the unusual metric of 3 places.

2020 Dubai Women’s Tour GC results

Results powered by FirstCycling.com

2020 Dubai Women’s Tour highlights

Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3

Stage 4

2020 Dubai Women’s Tour riders in the 2023 Women’s WorldTour

Sofia Collinelli (Israel-Premier Tech Roland)

Ingvild Gåskjenn (Team Jayco-AlUla)

Olivia Baril (UAE Team ADQ)

Christina Schweinberger (Fenix-Deceuninck)

Kim de Baat (Fenix-Deceuninck)