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Taylor tackles Qatar

Cherise Taylor, one of our top women’s road cyclists, had a tough day at the office at the Tour of Qatar on Wednesday, writes Mark Etheridge.

Taylor, one of five racers in the Lotto Belisol Ladies team, was clearly surprised at the red-hot pace of the first of three stages in the African desert nation.

Two-time winner of this race, Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands, won the first stage with a strong sprint.

She covered the 97-kilometres between Camel Race Track and Al Khor Corniche in 2hr 16min 50sec after having broken away with six other competitors. Team Specialized Lululemon’s Chloe Hosking (Australia) and Elen van Dijk of Netherlands were second and third.

The first 20km of the race saw riders being buffeted by a sandstorm, making things difficult for all concerned.

KwaZulu-Natal’s Taylor, who rode for Team South Africa at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, ended 68th in the main bunch, 13min 45min off the pace.

“It was an incredibly fast start,” she told Road to London 2012 after the stage. “I couldn’t make the break and just finished in the main bunch. It was insane. The first 50km saw us sitting on an average of 56km/h and me on 175bpm!”

Thursday’s second stage is slightly longer at 114.5km between Al Zubara Fort and Madinat Al Shamal. The race wraps up on Friday with a 92.5km ride at the Katara Cultural Village.