The streets were lined with spectators fanatically waving the iconic yellow flag of Flanders and the feeling of being pulled from the race, I imagine, was somewhat similar to the feeling dogs get when they get caught destroying something. Sunken ears and tail between my legs, I wanted to crawl into a hole and reappear only when everyone had gone home.
It’s hard to describe just exactly what makes this race so special. It surely has something to do with it’s rich history, it’s challenging parcours, and the region in which it is raced; Flanders. There is a vibe of excitement and anticipation that – in my cycling career – has only been challenged by the Olympic Games in London.
Needless to say, in 2014 I was determined not to repeat my performance of 2012."
LOVE Chloe’s blogs!
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Either way, the race delivered. The 112km race which, despite it’s name, actually started in the small town of Ieper, weaved and looped its way through the famous Vlaanderen country side like a toddler’s crayon before finishing in Wevelgem.
It had everything that races in Belgium are famous for: wide roads with terrible ‘gaps of death’ in the middle, tiny roads which are really more like bike paths, steep cobbled climbs and even steeper paved climbs."
My daughter Chloe has raced in Qatar since 2010. For the first few years it was very difficult to source updates or results on the race. I remember with Chloe’s first Tour of Qatar, waking early one morning to see if I could find some information on the race only to see photos posted on Cyclingnews of Chloe being stretchered off the course with her neck in a brace – not a good start to my day!
I had no idea where Chloe had been taken, I had no idea about Qatar and even less about Doha. (Fortunately Chloe was well looked after at one of Doha’s impressive medical facilities.)
So to be invited by Qatar Cycling to watch the 2014 Ladies Tour of Qatar in Qatar was exciting and such a fantastic opportunity. I mean how often do families of female cyclists get such invitations – NOT OFTEN!!"
I was recently having a conversation with Olympic gold medallist Sara Carrigan about women’s cycling and what needs to be done to grow it; we both agreed that steps need to be taken to get more women on bikes and once this is achieved the sport can grow.
It is a bottom-up process and not necessarily a top-down process. Participation spawns interest and interest creates demand; demand for coverage, demand for information, demand for more.
Cycling is not one of these sports you just wake up one day and decide you might try. It is expensive, at times daunting, and overall just not that approachable. We sit at coffee shops with our fast bikes, fast wheels, and perfectly positioned lycra and laugh at the new person in the bunch who still had the visor on their helmet; it’s intimidating.
What Qatar cycling is doing is making sure cycling isn’t expensive, isn’t daunting, is approachable, and most importantly isn’t intimidating. They realised that if they wanted to have a women’s team on the start line of the 2016 World Championships they needed to do something about it, and they have."
We’re the Hosking family; we’re at the 2014 edition of the Ladies Tour of Qatar supporting Chloe Hosking, her Hitec Products teammates, any Aussie who’s on a bike and many other athletes of any nation participating in this race that we’ve come to know over the years.
The key thing is — and I’ve always wanted to be able to write this— the Hosking family attended the Ladies Tour of Qatar as guests of, the Ladies Tour of Qatar.
Yes, a freebie. After all these years of following Chloe around the world, hanging out on the side of the road, fighting the traffic in the hire car and negotiating road closures to find a spot to watch them flash by we finally got invited to an event as special guests."
"It’s my huge goal, that’s what I’m working towards," Hosking told Cyclingnews of the Qatar world championships. "I think the course in Rio [for the 2016 Olympics] isn’t really up my alley, so my focus is on the Qatar world championships."
The flat terrain of Qatar lends itself to a sprinters’ course, and twelve months ago, both Eddy Merckx and representatives of the Qatar Cycling Federation poured cold water on the notion that a climb would be constructed especially for the race, even if the rumour is one that persists.
"I’m not really sure what the course is going to be like because I think they can build anything here," Hosking said. "They could build a massive hill, so you never know. I’ve heard all different things, I heard talk about a tunnel with air conditioning. We’ll have to wait and see, but I love racing in Qatar.""