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DUBAI HARBOUR, UAE (VN) — Charlotte Kool took an emphatic win on stage one of the women’s UAE Tour with the former leadout woman getting the better of her ex-teammate Lorena Wiebes.
UAE Team ADQ’s Chiara Consonni took the third spot on the podium on a nervous day for the peloton which led to multiple crashes, including one in the final three kilometers which saw Wiebes go down.
Wiebes battled back to the front, but Kool kicked to victory.
“Everything came together and I’m just really happy,” Kool said.
“It was really chaotic but I have to say I was quite calm and confident, the team also did really well.”
How it unfolded: Crashes marked the race
The combination of wind and early season nerves made for a skittish day in the peloton with Matilde Bertolini of Bepink being forced to abandon after an early crash.
The bunch split up and came back together multiple times throughout the day as a result of both crashes and the windy conditions. The sprinter’s teams kept the pace high meaning there were no opportunities for a breakaway to form all day.
Agnieszka Skalniak-Sójka of Canyon-SRAM took the first intermediate sprint while Liane Lippert of Movistar took the second, Lippert’s placing on the stage means that she will go into stage two wearing the black points jersey.
With a guaranteed sprint finish the teams were lining up to position their fast-finishers in the closing kilometers of the stage, but a crash with 3.8km to go brought down three DSM riders and pre-race favorite Wiebes.
It was a crash that could have spelled disaster for Wiebes but the SD Worx rider was quick to jump back on her bike and return to the peloton.
Having regained the front of the peloton and facing a headwind sprint the European Champion, led out by Barbara Guarischi, opened up her sprint first, with around 170m to go, but Kool, carrying more speed than her former teammate, came around Wiebes to win the stage by a bike length.
“In all the key points they were there, we really took care of me and in the last straight we just knew we had to wait but there were so many crashes so it was a real rollercoaster jumping from left to right. But I just kept calm and I had a good sprint,” Kool said.
Having beaten the woman she spent the last few seasons leading out, did Kool feel she had an advantage in knowing how Wiebes rides in a final?
“I’m not sure, I just actually did my own thing and I think that’s a bit the key, doing your own thing and not looking too much to the others. And I just knew I had a really strong sprint, I had a really good winter and I felt really strong and that it’s come out this way is just really nice,” she said.
Kool went into the stage with a confidence that was borne out of knowing her current form was good, and having the support of her team, “I had a really good winter and I just know we have a really strong team and they really look after me and they have a lot of trust in me,” she said.
“So it was just the confidence that made me so calm and excited actually. And of course, being a finish for myself is something I love the most, that’s just what I’m born for I feel. I was just really excited to be in the game myself again.”
It is advantage Kool in the battle of the sprinters so far, and the young Dutchwoman goes into the rest of the race buoyed by the fact she has already got the better of her biggest rival.
“For sure, it is a great confidence and I hope we can show more, especially with the team how strong we are and that Team DSM is still the best sprint team,” she said.
After her win today, Kool will wear the red leader’s jersey going into stage two and also leads the young rider and the sprint classifications.
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