Annalisa Cucinotta wins Ladies Tour of Qatar, stage 1

Alé-Cipollini's Cucinotta wins a bunch sprint on the first day of the Qatar race, claiming the overall lead

Annalisa Cucinotta (Alé-Cipollini) won a bunch sprint at the end of the first stage in the Ladies Tour of Qatar to claim the race’s first leader’s jersey on Tuesday.

The 98.5km stage ran from the Museum of Islamic Art to Dukhan Beach. Wiggle-Honda’s Giorgia Bronzini finished second, and Cucinotta’s teammate, Marta Tagliaferro was third.

The day’s only breakaway came from a solo move by Xiu Jie Jiang (Chongming-Liv). Her advantage never got larger than 1:20, and she was brought back with 20 kilometers to go, the peloton rode together for the entire race. Cucinotta, 28, had the best finishing kick, and claimed her first major victory since 2008, when she won the Classica Citta di Padova.

“Today’s opening stage turned out to be a steady start to the race here with no wind to worry about,” said Liv-Plantur coach Hans Timmermans. “With this in mind we looked to stay out of trouble and stick together before riding to set Lucy [Garner] up for the sprint finish. She ended coming through too early and losing Amy’s [Pieters] wheel, but it was a good stage for everyone to get their legs back into the race rhythm. It will also be a good learning point for the team to improve on for the coming sprints.”

In addition to the golden leader’s jersey, Cucinotta also claimed the silver points leader’s jersey. Her teammate, Arianna Fidanza now holds the white jersey as best young rider.

On Wednesday, the peloton will ride a 112.5km stage from Al Zubarah Fort to Madinat Al Shamal.