HTC-Columbia ready for strong start to women’s season

HTC-Columbia Women's Team gets its racing season underway in the Tour of Qatar next week, and they're aiming for a strong start to 2010.

HTC-Columbia Women’s Team gets its racing season underway in the Tour of Qatar next week, and they’re aiming for a strong start to 2010.

“We’ve got a good group there, it often gets really windy in Qatar but they all know how to ride hard in the gutter and line out the bunch,” said HTC-Columbia sports director Ronny Lauke in a team release. “We’ll be aiming for some early success just like last year. It’s a very important race, and a stage win would lift the riders’ confidence for the rest of the season.”

Lauke says the three-day Qatar stage race may be one of the flattest events on the calendar, but the terrain is unusually demanding nonetheless.

“The high winds and fast speeds make Qatar very technical, the riders have got to be well-placed in the peloton and stay focused all the time,” he said. “The heat’s a big factor, too. The latest forecasts say it’ll be nearly thirty degrees during the day, which is thirty degrees warmer than most of Europe.That’s quite a difference.”

HTC-Columbia notched good results in Qatar last year. After sneaking into an early break on stage one, Ellen Van Dijk finished fourth overall, and won the Best Young Rider’s prize.

Van Dijk is part of the team’s line-up for Qatar this February, and Lauke says he expects the Dutchwoman and new signing Chloe Hosking will be battling it out in the field sprints.

“We did a lot of good training in Mallorca and the team has really come together as a unit. Now it’s time to see how we compare with our rivals and what we can achieve.”

Also racing are German veteran Judith Arndt and double world’s medal winner from last year Noemi Cantele.

HTC-Columbia for Tour of Qatar

  • Judith Arndt
  • Noemi Cantele
  • Chloe Hosking
  • Emilia Fahlin
  • Adrie Visser
  • Ellen Van Dijk