Lorena Wiebes Triumphs in UAE Tour Opener

Lorena Wiebes clinched the first victory of the 2024 season for Team SD Worx-Protime in the opening stage of the UAE Tour Women. Thanks to a flawless lead-out by her teammates, notably the world champion Lotte Kopecky, the Dutch powerhouse surged to the win, leaving Rachele Barbieri and Chiara Consonni trailing in her wake.

The stage, which spanned just over 120 kilometres to Dubai Harbour, was anticipated as an ideal scenario for Wiebes to mark her first win of the season, especially in the absence of her main rival Charlotte Kool due to illness. Despite a relatively uneventful race, the riders faced a day filled with nervousness due to the tricky wind conditions, leading to several crashes, including a significant one involving last year’s victor, Elisa Longo Borghini. However, the Italian managed to continue and rejoin the peloton relatively easily. It was Idoia Eraso of Laboral Kutxa who was left with her jersey in shreds from the crash.

The race saw attempts at forming echelons, but none sustained long enough to cause lasting splits. The peloton was momentarily disrupted by a crash, with Longo Borghini among those affected but quickly recovering. An early breakaway featuring Alice Palazzi was neutralised, followed by an attack from Gaia Segato and Yanina Kuskova, who managed to forge ahead but were eventually caught with just over 20 kilometres remaining. Both of the attacks took the main bonus seconds available at the intermediate sprint points.

As the race hurtled towards a sprint finish, there was a big crash again in the bunch. Lorena Wiebes was involved but the slowest to get going again was Claire Steels. Movistar sent 4 riders to pace her back to the peloton successfully. There was also an attack from Carina Schrempf in the final kilometres as she tried to recreate the move from last year’s Tour de Romandie Féminin which saw her almost win. As it was, Team SD Worx-Protime executed a textbook lead-out for Wiebes. World Champion Lotte Kopecky played a crucial role in positioning Wiebes, who then unleashed a commanding sprint from ahead of her rivals to secure the win and don the leader’s jersey.

Wiebes expressed delight at winning the season’s first race, emphasising the collective effort of her team. Kopecky, too, was lauded for her invaluable work in the sprint preparation. With the wind expected to play a significant role in the coming stages, SD Worx-Protime remains prepared to defend the race lead and target further successes.

The UAE Tour Women continues to be a battleground for the world’s top sprinters and climbers, with the queen stage to Jebel Hafeet eagerly anticipated. As the teams recalibrate their strategies following the opening sprint, all eyes will be on how the GC contenders fare in the mountains.

2024 UAE Tour Women Stage 1 result

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Main photo credit: Getty Images