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"This time the team rode incredible all week and controlled it. Then after what happened in the time trial obviously, I think this jersey should be on the shoulders of Edvald.”

Photo: QCF/Paumer


































12.02.2016 @ 19:34 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) confirmed his status as king of Qatar by claiming his third stage win in the 2016 edition of the Tour of Qatar on the final day of the five-day race. After another textbook lead-out from Jacopo Guarnieri, he held Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) off in a very close photo finish while Roy Jans (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) was a distant third. Second place was enough for Cavendish to win the race for the second time in his career while Kristoff moved into second ahead of Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).


We have gathered several reactions.


Mark Cavendish: This golden jersey belongs to Edvald Boasson Hagen

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka did a great job once again to lead out Cavendish, putting him in a prime position with 1km to go. Edvald Boasson Hagen had already put yesterday's disappointment behind him, and did a crucial turn for Cavendish inside of 1km to go. It was the Manxman and Kristoff going neck and neck for the final 200m and even on the finish line photo, it was difficult to determine the winner. In the end, the stage victory went the way of the Norwegian rider.


With Cavendish placed 2nd though, his overall lead was secure and he would win the Tour of Qatar by 5 seconds from Kristoff. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) placing 3rd overall. Boasson Hagen also finished in the pack on the stage to ensure he kept his 5th place on general classification too. The result was the African Team's first General Classification race win of the year.


”We were really motivated for today and I have won this stage before a couple of times,” Cavendish sad. “The wind was always going to make it difficult today, it was a block headwind and we thought it was going to be cross. Actually it was more a cross-headwind so you were never really comfortable.


“We knew we were going to have to take control and the team were really motivated after yesterday. Obviously we were in control at the beginning of yesterday but then with the puncture of Edvald it really put the team in a difficult situation. It also made it harder for us to take the overall today so we really had to be on top of our game to make sure we finished on the top step of the podium. The lads did it perfectly on the final laps when it was hectic, keeping me in the front and out of danger, so I was ready for the sprint.


”Obviously it's nice to be wearing gold now, but I know I am only wearing it on behalf of Edvald. He only lost it because of bad luck and not through any other kind of cause. He should be the guy wearing this gold jersey but we are just super happy to keep it in Team Dimension Data. The team made the step up to World Tour this year and we've already won a GC. It is great for the new sponsors, Dimension Data, Deloitte and also to highlight Qhubeka here on the international stage.


“We’re just happy to have the gold jersey, but of course the gold jersey should be on the shoulders of Edvald if he didn’t have the shit luck yesterday. He should really have had it, so I feel bad for him.


“But we’re happy that Dimension Data’s got it anyway: we put ourselves in the front positions and controlled the race. We’re super happy with how we’ve done and we’ve shown we deserve to step up to WorldTour.”


“It’s a different win to 2013, obviously then QuickStep was a team that dominated this race for ten years, I think I won four stages. It was more of a sprint fest and done on time bonuses. This time the team rode incredible all week and controlled it. Then after what happened in the time trial obviously, I think this jersey should be on the shoulders of Edvald.


“I think with the tailwind finish I should perhaps have geared up. I asked Kristoff what he did for the finish and he actually did gear up for the final with a cross-tail and tailwind.


“I had a lot of time in the wind but the guys did their best to keep me out. Obviously I knew Kristoff’s lead-out man would leave him a little gap on the right to go. I followed through and perhaps that cost me because I had to leave it a little later to start to come around Kristoff. But in the end, he’s won three stages, it’s not like he’s going bad. It’s not like I’ve lost to anyone who’s not strong.”


“I haven’t thought about the Track Worlds really, I’ve just been trying to get through this nine-day block with Dubai and here. So of course I know I’m in contention for selection there, but when you’re racing here in the winds like this, you can’t really have the track in the back of your mind, you have to go full gas. But I’m happy with what I’ve got out of these races in Dubai and Qatar, and obviously made up to have the win more than anything."


”On a difficult last day of the tour, the entire team stepped up to the challenge and defended the jersey. I am so pleased for all the guys and the entire team, they really deserved the win,” sports director Roger Hammond said.


Alexander Kristoff: I am glad that I have longer arms than Cavendish

Team KATUSHA’s Alexander Kristoff took his third stage victory in the 2016 Tour of Qatar. Kristoff was the best in the fifth and last stage after a high-speed sprint against Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data). A photo-finish had to decide who was the winner.


The six-second bonus for his second place gave Cavendish the overall win ahead of Alexander Kristoff (+5”) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) (+8”). Sven Erik Bystrøm finished 8th overall, Viacheslav Kuznetsov was 9th.


”That sprint was pretty hectic. A lot of teams were tryng to take the lead. We actually did a very good job all day. We controlled the break and were able in the end to be in front at the last corner. There we had a good position. Dimension Data overtook us a little bit. We managed to stay together more or less. The last 500 meters were for them but I passed them again with 200 meters to go. Then Cavendish came by my side. I thought he got me but then… I think my body is just a little bit longer… That made the difference,” said Alexander Kristoff, who won the silver jersey of the best sprinter.


“It was a little bit closer today, and I didn't know if I had won or not because we were dead even. So I'm happy I had a little bit longer arms,” Kristoff joked.


“Our plan today was to go again for the win. If you have the legs, you need to go on when you are in the winning mood. It was up to us to chase down the breakaway. We started to pull at 20km from the Corniche in Doha, before entering the local circuit with ten laps. We had to do this. At the same time it was a signal to the other teams that we really wanted to win this stage. We took our resposibility. With success,” added team director Torsten Schmidt.


For Team KATUSHA the Tour of Qatar was a big success: second overall, three stage wins and points classification. The team will head now well motivated to the Tour of Oman (16-21 February).


”My results in Qatar are even better than last year, even if I did a worse time trial. The team did such a good job. Without them I would never have been able to win these stages because every day I had a very good lead out. We are ready for Oman,” said Alexander Kristoff.


“It was a great preparation for me, getting a lot of confidence. I had two very close sprints with Mark and yesterday I won a good one with the team. We are confident going into the Classics.


“For me it's been a really important race to know where I'm at also for my preparation, to go deep some days with the crosswinds. And you also have the same fighting here like you have in the classics. It's good preparation.”


“I'll come back in October now to try to win the World Championships, but it'll be difficult. It's going to be very hot.”


Headwind destroys Greg Van Avermaet’s plans in Qatar

Greg Van Avermaet has secured his first podium place for 2016, finishing third overall at the Tour of Qatar behind Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).


Manuel Quinziato finished in fourth in the General Classification and Michael Schär in tenth, setting BMC Racing Team up to take out the Team Classification.


Van Avermaet started the day in second, and Quinziato in third, before bonus seconds gained in the final sprint, won by Kristoff, rearranged the final GC order.


It is a good way to start the season, Van Avermaet said.


“I’m happy with the week here in Qatar. I like this kind of racing. It’s always a big fight to be in position and be up there, and I think it’s really good preparation for the Classics and the rest of the season. You do a lot of speed work here, and at every corner you have to be up there.



“The team did a great job here working together and making sure I was in the right position. I really have to credit their efforts here and it shows that our work together in the off-season at the training camps has paid off.


“There wasn’t a whole lot we could do today with that headwind, and we knew that this finish was perfect for Cavendish or Kristoff. Maybe if we’d caught the early break before the two bonus sprints, I could perhaps have tried to pick up the two seconds on Cavendish.”


 “I’m still satisfied with my Tour of Qatar, though. Third on the general classification is a good result.”


“I got a lot of speed work in here, and you have to fight for your position here at every corner, and you work together as a team to be there in a certain position. That’s a good preparation that you don’t find in other race.


 “I like this kind of racing. It’s always a good fight to be in position and it’s good preparation. Whether it makes a difference or not I don’t know, but I prefer to do my preparation here because it’s similar racing to Flanders and the Classics.


“Now I’m off to Oman where it is a little bit hillier and a bit more relaxed. Every day here it is stressful with the winds and the speed. There are a lot of stages for me in Oman, and probably some sprints better suited to me.


“There are a lot of stages there that might suit me better because they tend to have hills in the finale. The sprints over there might be better for me. It’s a bit hillier and a bit more relaxed. Every day here it is stressful with the winds and the speed.”


BMC Racing Team Sports Director Fabio Baldato is satisfied with the team’s performance at the five-stage race.


“We were of course still trying to win the race as we went into the final stage today, and to keep Manuel on the podium. It was a strange final stage with strong head and tail winds, so it was hard for the team to make the race really difficult, like we like to do. I’m really satisfied with the performance by all of the team. All of the guys were working well together everyday.”


Baldato is confident heading into the Tour of Oman where the same team will be joined by Richie Porte.


“The guys are in good shape for the Tour of Oman. Greg is going well and I think Oman is a better race for him and Richie Porte is also on the way over from Australia to join the team. I would like to win a stage with Greg.”


73km/h not enough for strong Roy Jans in Qatar sprint

Roy Jans once again proved he's very fast. In the final stage of the Tour of Qatar he only saw Alexander Kristoff and Mark Cavendish finish ahead of him but the gap was considerably smaller than three days ago. 

“I think more would have been possible today," Jans reflected. "I sprinted from the wheel of Hutarovich and was already at full speed when I had to go around Kristoff's lead-out man Jacopo Guarnieri. I didn't need to hit the brakes but skipped one pedal turn." 

According to Jans' bike computer his maximum sprint speed was 73 kilometres an hour. 

“The start of the stage was pretty slow. The first 60 kilometres before the Doha criterium we faced a headwind. The average speed was only 40 km/h today." 

On the local laps the speed went up and Wanty-Groupe Gobert worked well together to protect Jans. At the beginning of the last lap the team took command at the front of the peloton with Björn Thurau, birthday boy Simone Antonini and the rest of the team.

“The team did a fantastic job today. I am really, really happy with how we work together at the moment. Robin Stenuit and Danilo Napolitano were with me in the final 1.5 kilometres. Unfortunately Kenny Dehaes lost me in the last turn. He would have been a great help in the final, I am sure." 

The great teamwork and Jans' two podium places in the Tour of Qatar boost Jans' confidence for his first big goal of the season: Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

“My form is good but it's not top yet. Next week we race in Oman and then there is resting at home. That's the final step to take towards a top condition," Jans concludes. 

Enrico Gasparotto replaces Danilo Napolitano in the Tour of Oman which starts next Tuesday. 


Yukiya Arashiro breaks his femur on final day in Lampre-Merida debut

The conclusion of the Tour of Qatar was bitter for LAMPRE-MERIDA, because in the early kilometers of the 5th stage) Yukiya Arashiro was victim of a crash which left him with a broken femu

After 5km of the race, the Japanese rider crashed and hit the left leg on the ground. He was transported to the nearest hospital where x-rays revealed that the femur was broken.

The team's physician, Dr Pollastri, is cooperating with the hospital staff to organize the assistance to Arashiro.

Sacha Modolo tried to redeem the unlucky day for LAMPRE-MERIDA, battling in the sprint thanks to the support from teammate Kump, who acted as lead-out man until 250 meters to go.

Modolo started a good progression and he recovered some meters. He crossed the finish line in 5th. He was 11th overall.


LAMPRE-MERIDA obtained two results in the top 5 (today and Modolo’s 2nd place in the first stage), but the team also faced two severe injuries (Arashiro and Mohoric who broke his elbow in the first stage).


Young Dane wins white jersey in first ever race for Giant-Alpecin

With the strong winds expected on the final stage, Team Giant-Alpecin went into the race with the plan to defend the GC of Søren Kragh Andersen and his pearl white jersey.


Over the course of the 114km stage, the team kept Søren Kragh Andersen at the front of the peloton in a good position in order to not be caught out by the headwinds.  He safely crossed the finish line in 26th place.


For his World Tour debut for Team Giant-Alpecin, Søren Kragh Andersen ended the race in sixth position in the GC and won the youth classification.


Coach Marc reef gave his verdict on the last stage: “The objective of the stage was to defend the position of Søren in the GC and the young jersey.


“During the stage there was a lot of wind, especially headwind but the team managed very well and were always in a good position in the peloton”


“Overall the team took very good care of Søren and placed him in a great position in the last corner before the finish line. We are very satisfied with the result, with 6th place in the GC and the white jersey.”


Change of tactic doesn’t work out for Sam Bennett in Doha sprint

In todays last stage everything went as predicted. An early 3-man breakaway was no real threat for the sprinters. The gap was well-controlled the whole day and also BORA – ARGON 18 took responsibility to make sure to get another chance in a big bunch sprint with Sam Bennett.


The lead-out trains began pretty early to position themselves, with BORA – ARGON 18 waiting to the very end to make a move. At 600m to go Bennett was led to about 8th position. He launched his sprint little later, but was not able to catch up with Alexander Kristoff who won this final stage. Still it was a good effort again for Bennett and the team with a 6th place today.


Sam Bennett remained his superb 7th place in the GC, just 0:47 behind the winner. Taking into account the bad luck with the crash on day two, this result could have been even better.


“It was a great team effort this week,” Bennett said. “The guys rode incredibly strong and were one unit. I would have loved to get a win to reward this effort but in the end I couldn’t manage it. Today I made the call to change the tactics with 2 laps to go. In the end it didn’t pay off but it was a good learning curve. Big thanks to the team for all the work.”


“The team works really well together,” new signing Rudiger Selig said. “For sure it is not perfect like in training but I think it is just a matter of time until we claim our first win of the season. Sam is definitely fast enough and also all the other guys are in good shape.”


"In general, the team did a good job. We finished two times just outside the podium and we really did not have the luck on our side at all,” sports director Enrico Poitschke said. “There where some crashes where we have been involved and also some punctures in pretty bad moments. We are not totally satisfied, but the team showed again its unity and strength. When there were selections in the wind, we always had several riders in the front group which is a good sign. And with Sam’s 7th place in the GC we can say that it has been a good week for us."


Signs of improvement for Moreno Hofland’s new lead-out train in Qatar

Team LottoNL-Jumbo finished the Tour of Qatar with Moreno Hofland in seventh place in the fifth and final stage. During the stage along Doha’s Corniche, it was clear that the team’s lead-out is improving even if it was not good enough to compete with the day’s winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) placed second and won the general classification.

The final stage from Sealine Beach presented a fourth chance for the sprinters. After Hofland finished seventh in a chaotic bunch sprint, sports director Jan Boven and team captain Robert Wagner took their time to evaluate the lead-out. 

“I noticed that we’re improving,” Boven said. “We were at least able to sprint today. We made a plan and we were able to carry out the plan until the final 500 metres of the stage. When you look at our development during this race, you can see that we started with a stage in which we were totally blown away. That was a shock. The second day we already went better and Jos van Emden placed second in the time trial on day three. Those performances gave us some faith again. 

"Yesterday, we had our best day, but we screwed up in the bunch sprint because we weren’t focussed after forcing the echelon. Today, we stayed quiet, but Moreno lost our lead-out with 300 metres to go. He has to improve in that part of sprinting. He is used to do the sprint with one man, but we’re preparing it with the whole team now.”

“The Tour of Qatar is a tough race with the wind,” Wagner added. “A perfect sprint lead-out maybe looks easy, but every team wants to do it the same way. Besides that, every race requires improvisation. We improved in that part this week. Yesterday, we forced an echelon, but threw away a big chance afterwards. Today, we made some solid plans and performed them perfectly until the last turn. Moreno lost our wheels in that turn. That’s a pity because we formed a beautiful lead-out. The only way to take those last steps is to ride more races with each other.”

Because of the improvement, Boven was satisfied with the Tour of Qatar. “We must be. Except for the first day, we did a good job every day and showed ourselves. The way the riders were working together to develop the sprint lead-out gives me a great feeling. The next steps are about confidence.”


Optimistic Kazakh track rider survives first pro race in windy Qatar

"I liked this race very much,” said Astana’s Ayrtom Zakharov at the end of his first pro race. “The first days were very stressful, there were many crashes, many crowds. But I can't say that it was unbearably difficult, because we had a good tactic and right positions at the race.


“Day by day I was feeling better: my condition and tactics were improving. I had to be very careful, I couldn't risk anything because it is only 20 days before the World Track Championships.


“I was really impressed by the organization inside the team. It is great when the process is so well organized - you just have to pedal and have a rest after the race."


Drapac optimistic after solid debut in Qatar

The Tour of Qatar closed out yesterday after tremendously windy week in amazing sand-scape beauty of Qatar with a world class field assembled. Drapac Professional Cycling (DPC) Jordan Kerby’s time trial performance highlighted the week, with Kerby  attacking the challenging 11km route finishing a solid 8th position.


“I knew I had to take the wind into account, ride a smart TT and use my power efficiently at the critical moments. I believe I did this well and am happy with my result in this strong field,” Kerby said. “The tour itself is a very high level, with super hard conditions and the stages are raced full gas everyday. Positioning is critical.”


“The team showed a significant amount of progress throughout the week. Racing in these extreme wind is completely new to all our riders except for Graeme Brown and  Jens Mouris. We were unlucky to lose Mouris on stage one due to illness, but Brown led the guys excellently throughout the week. Kerby had a very strong ride to get in the top 10 on the TT,” Keith Flory, Sports Director said.


Stage 1 showed the power of the wind in the peloton with an early split in the field causing a reduced field sprint of 16 riders. Unfortunately no DPC rider was positioned to make the initial break. The crash just under 1km to go during stage 2 took out Brenton Jones and Brown. Both were able to finish the stage and recover for the remaining two sprint stages. Stage 4 proved to be another battle of the wind with the GC favorites all in full protection of their teams. Jones was DPC’s the highest place at 55th (+:56). In the tour’s final stage it was a 50-man plus sprint to the line, with the world class sprinting power of Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka) and Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha) battling to the line for the stage victory and GC win. Jones finished 27th to close out the tour.


“This race was a good learning curve for us as a team. Learning the ins and outs of the extreme crosswind riding is key for future races for us as a team,” Brown said.



“Our Oman squad will change slightly from Tour of Qatar to account for the number of climbs in the race – Tour of Oman a very selective race as a result of the finishing climbs so we have Brendan Canty, Nathan Earle, Adam Phelan and Travis Meyer to join Sam Spokes, Jordan Kerby, Peter Koning and Bernard Sulzberger. I think we have a tremendously balanced team for this race and we will be looking at a variety of guys through the tour to make an impact,” Flory said. “It is another world class field so another opportunity to test ourselves against the best.”


Roompot leave Tour of Qatar empty-handed

With two top ten results for André Looij and an attacking race almost daily, Roompot - Orange Peloton looks back on a successful debut in the Tour of Qatar. The big disappointment was the early loss of Barry Markus.


The sprinter was involved in a crash in the finale of the second stage. After examination at the hospital in Doha, Markus appeared to have broken his collarbone in three places. He has since undergone surgery.


The stage in which Markus crashed, was one of the three stages in Qatar which was won by Alexander Kristoff. Brian Van Goethem was a member of the break on that day. LaterAndré Looij scored an eighth place in the tumultuous sprint in Doha. On Wednesday, Berden de Vries (26th) was the highest placed rider from the team in the time trial.


De Vries showed himself one day later as part of a leading group. Jesper Asselman later did the same until the final kilometers in Madinat al Shamal. The final stage of the race ended in a sprint. André Looij took 9th place.



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