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“The plan upfront was to go for Marcel - no ifs or buts, just to go for a big sprint with Marcel and everyone was behind this. It was all working out until the last lap."

Photo: Sirotti

MARCEL KITTEL

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TOUR OF QATAR

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13.02.2015 @ 15:14 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Team Giant-Alpecin went into the final stage of the Tour of Qatar with an all-or-nothing plan around sprinting for Marcel Kittel but unfortunately in the final kilometres the plan came off the rails leaving the team with little to show on the sixth stage of the race.

 

With slightly less frantic wind conditions expected for the final stage, the team built a plan around sprinting for Kittel in the hope that the stage would be a steady, normal sprinter’s stage, and for most of the race they were on the right track.

 

Kittel , not having been feeling great over the past few days, was up for giving it a shot and so over the course of the 113km stage the team kept him out of the wind and in a good position as not to be caught by surprise. The peloton was happy to let four riders pull clear and start to build an advantage but it never grew to over a few minutes.

 

As the race hit the final circuits of Doha, their advantage was under a minute and soon enough things were all back together. The pace continued to rise as the kilometres clicked down with the sprinter’s teams in control, including Team Giant-Alpecin with Kittel firmly in position.

 

However, on the final lap Kittel had to let go as splits started to appear in the bunch and riders started to lose contact. With the front group whittling down, only Nikias Arndt, Bert De Backer and Tom Veelers remained, but after their efforts to try and get Plan A to work, they had little left for the finish and were out of the placings.

 

Coach Marc Reef gave his verdict on the stage and the race as a whole: “The plan upfront was to go for Marcel – no ifs or buts, just to go for a big sprint with Marcel and everyone was behind this. It was all working out until the last lap where he had to let go of the wheels a few times and from there it was over.

 

“I knew upfront already that with this plan there were two outcomes – all or nothing, and unfortunately it was nothing today. We knew it would be hard with Marcel not feeling too good, but we also knew that if things went to our advantage in terms of how the race would go then we would have a good chance.

 

“Looking back over the whole race, we aimed for stage victories up front here, that was the goal. At first I thought that Marcel would have recovered from his cold but with the racing being so hard from day one he wasn’t really able to and so we had to change plan slightly.

 

“When you look to the whole race, we weren’t sharp enough at some points where it was necessary, but we grew into the race. I think that we can be proud of the fact that when Plan A wasn’t working  out we could adapt as a team and everybody did everything to make this happen, and to give Nikias a chance. With this we can be proud of twice coming third. Next up is Oman, for which Warren [Barguil] and Carter [Jones] swap with Marcel and Albert [Timmer]. We saw here that Nikias and Ramon are riding strongly and I think that there will be some good chances in the sprints there for them.”

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