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“The decision was open again today and with Marcel not feeling great but Nikias feeling confident, and really wanting to sprint we gave him the chance to go for it.”

Photo: Sirotti

MARCEL KITTEL

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NIKIAS ARNDT

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TEAM SUNWEB

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TOUR OF QATAR

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12.02.2015 @ 15:57 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Nikias Arndt has sprinted to a second podium spot in two days as the fifth stage of the Tour of Qatar saw a repeat of the podium places from the previous day. The race was another wind-influenced stage as echelons formed from the off, and it was a reduced, select group that came into the finish together.

 

Anrdt was up against it with no teammates in the final after the race split in the gutter in the last five kilometres, but he did a strong ride to move up into position before launching his sprint. In another drag race to the line, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) took his third win of the race, with Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) in second and Anrdt in third.

 

The riders have spoken about the battle for position starting as soon as the riders roll off in the neutral zone here in Qatar and today was no different. From the opening kilometres the race was on with the peloton splitting into three distinct groups in the first 15km.

 

With several changes in direction on the route of the 153km stage, there was always bound to be some battles in the lateral winds, and the team went into the stage well prepared and ready to fight for their position at the front. There were splits and regroupings a-plenty in the first 60km of the day before things settled a bit and a break of five was established. Their lead grew to nearly three minutes but in the final 20km their advantage was down to 30 seconds as the peloton reaccelerated, shelling more riders.

 

Once back together the race was flying towards a crucial point in the parcours – a 90 degree left hand turn with 5km to race, where the race hit the crosswinds once again. Straight out of this turn the race was split and a small group pulled clear without any Team Giant-Alpecin jerseys. Anrdt was not far off though and managed to bridge up in a select chase group before battling it out in the final sprint to the line.

 

Tomorrow’s final stage is another potential sprint opportunity for the team, and with Nikias showing more and more strength and confidence each day he can aim test his legs once again at the Doha Corniche.

 

 

After the stage, team coach Marc Reef said: “The plan was quite open today – that everyone had their chances. We knew going into it that the race was going to split into groups in the crosswinds, and that we needed to race for position as a team as much as possible. But we also knew that during the day the winds would fall before building again – this proved right as at one moment the wind had totally disappeared.

 

“The expectation was that it would split and then come back, before splitting once again on the local laps, and we weren’t too far off with this.

 

“The decision was open again today and with Marcel not feeling great but Nikias feeling confident, and really wanting to sprint we gave him the chance to go for it.”

 

Reef also updated us on how Kittel is getting on: “Marcel hasn’t been feeling great in the past few days. Between the Tour Down Under and Qatar he was a bit sick and couldn’t train for five or six of days in-between. This left just two training days before Qatar and with the opening days being flat out here he couldn’t recover in a normal way.

 

“For tomorrow it is difficult to say. Today was a hard day for everyone, and we will see how everyone is feeling before making a plan to challenge here again in the best way possible.”

 

Anrdt also added: “It was again not a normal race, from the beginning on it was hectic and splitting up. When it first split I missed the front group but I was never scared that we wouldn’t get back to the front. When it slowed we came back to the front group, and from there we were present and concentrated and had a second chance. We made a plan again for me for the sprint – it was a good plan but with around 7km to go Katusha split it again. There were about ten guys in front and we were in around 15th position. There I was a little scared but I thought if we go all out now we’ll blow up so we need to stay calm, see who will help up.

 

“Ramon [Sinkeldam], Bert [de Backer] and Tom [Veelers] jumped here and did some big pulls to get us back to the first group. From here I was on my own and I don’t think I’ve ever had it like this, on my own in the sprint so it was a good experience. I picked my wheel but after the roundabout changed my mind as I saw he wasn’t that strong so I jumped and moved up to Sagan’s wheel.

 

“I was following him in the sprint but running out of gears – it felt like I couldn’t get into the 11 but after the finish I saw that it was the 11 that I was sprinting in! I think it was again the maximum on the day. We’re happy with third but yeah if you go for a sprint then you want to win. We still have one day here, and it was a good race again from the team today so we will see what we can do tomorrow.”

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