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“I don’t know what’s going to happen on GC here because there’s the individual time trial. Normally 10k later in the year I can do ok, but with my form in February not really."

Photo: QCF/Paumer/Kåre Dehlie Thorstad


























08.02.2016 @ 18:06 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After a frustrating Dubai Tour, Mark Cavendish finally got his first win for Dimension Data when he came out on top in a sprint from a 16-rider group on a windy first stage of the Tour of Qatar. Having made the selection when the peloton split early in the stage, he came off Alexander Kristoff’s (Katusha) wheel in the sprint and easily held off Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) and Andrea Guardini (Astana) to take both the stage victory and the leader’s jersey in the five-day race.


We have gathered several reactions.


Mark Cavendish not confident about GC opportunities despite opening win in Qatar

Mark Cavendish opened his season victory account today at stage 1 of the Tour of Qatar, giving Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka its inaugural win. Edvald Boasson Hagen was also in the mix, crossing the line 6th.

Thanks to Cavendish taking 2nd and then 1st at the two intermediate sprints during the stage, the Manxman has an 8-second lead in the overall classification, giving him the golden leader’s jersey. He also leads the silver points jersey competition as well.

“We’ve probably got the best race director in the world for this race in Roger Hammond,” Cavendish said. “We had a lot of confidence for today after last night’s team meeting. The split went pretty soon in the beginning and I was always looked after from the start. Jay Thomson always kept me there at the front in the beginning ready to go and when the group split Youcef Reguigui did a big turn to get me there, and then we had three in the front so that was okay. Obviously we had me there for the sprint and we wanted Edvald there for the overall. So we were content with having the 3 there.


”It was a long day and a hard. Unfortunately, Tyler [Farrar] punctured and he used too much energy to get back to me for the sprint but he was incredible in helping to keep the group away. Edvald just stayed with me in the final and I wanted Kristoff’s wheel because they had the numbers so we knew they’d do the leadout and Edvald just sweeped, he was there in case I needed him.


”I launched from Kristoff with about 200m to go, the road turned right so I hugged the right side and I knew no one would come round me then. It was great that Edvald was there as for sure he will be in contention after the time trial on Wednesday. In all, it was a super strong performance by all the guys and I am really happy to get the first win of the year.


“With the crosswinds it’s a different race here. It was a smaller group, it was on all day. It’s about being on all day here. We had a 20-man finish rather than a 200-man finish, so it’s a bit less hectic in the final. It’s different sprinting after 130 kilometres in a bunch to sprinting after 180 kilometres in the front group.


“I don’t know what’s going to happen on GC here because there’s the individual time trial. Normally 10k later in the year I can do ok, but with my form in February not really. Ok, Edvald didn’t get a time bonus but he never lost time today, and that should prove fruitful for Wednesday when he can hopefully do a good time trial there.”


“I don’t think I’ll be back in Qatar before the World Championships again so it’s good to see it,” he said regarding tomorrow’s stage which includes a few laps of the Worlds circuit. “We’ll do a few laps. I think they’ve changed it, so we won’t see the full circuit but we’ll definitely be going around the Pearl.”

”It was a really good collective team effort,” sports director Roger Hammond said. “When one races on the flat roads in the wind it’s about how the team works together and everyone did their jobs today, making sure Mark, Tyler and Edvald were in the front. There was still a lot of racing to do in the final but with the team helping those 3 get to the front allowed us to relax a bit and gave Mark the chance to concentrate on the sprint. It was a really good sprint by Mark, beating Kristoff with 3 teammates is pretty impressive. We are really pleased, everybody had an input in today’s win so it’s nice when a plan works out.”


Sacha Modolo with mixed emotions after second place in Qatar, Mohoric fractures elbow

The first stage of the Tour of Qatarwas characterized by the wind and by a good performance of Sacha Modolo who confirmed his good condition.

Modolo joined the 21-rider front group which had a maximum advantage of 2 minutes

While the bunch was focused on the chase, a crash occurred and Matej Mohoric got involved in, suffering a broken elbow. The Slovenian rider is in a hospital in Doha and Dr Pollastri, LAMPRE-MERIDA's pysichian, is evaluating how to support him in the best way.


"I'm satisfied for my condition which allowed me to be in the front group when the bunch was split by the wind, but I have some regrets for not have been able to achieve the big target,” Modolo explained. “My idea was to anticipate Cavendish, but Mark began the sprint earlier than me so I could not overtake him. In hindsight, I should have started earlier.

“I don't want to think about regrets, I prefer to focus on tomorrow’s stage and to send my support to Mohoric who suffered an injury in a crash. He was in great condition.”


Andrea Guardini encouraged by good showing in Qatari crosswind

“I managed to stay in the front thanks to the work of Ruslan Tleubayev,” Andrea Guardini said after his third place. “In the sprint, however, I was a bit closed and I had to settle for third place.


“It was a very fast race with an average speed of close 52km/h and in the end I had cramps in my left leg, but I feel that my condition is good.”


"Andrea was clever,” commented sports director Dmitriy Fofonov. “Apart from that, it was an unlucky day. Dias Omirzakov, in his first race as a pro, fell and was forced to abandon the race. Gatis Smukulis also fell, but managed to get to the finish line.”


Guardini is in third place in the GC, 11 seconds behind.


Alexander Kristoff: I was simply not strong enough in the sprint

The group of classics riders at Team KATUSHA led by the most winning rider of 2015 Alexander Kristoff have opened their 2016 season. Kristoff was 5th while Viacheslav Kuznetsov finished 11th.


“It was a hard day, the beginning of the season for me. The whole day we had a very high speed. In the final, I had three guys with me, we tried to take the lead, but maybe I missed some speed to start the sprint. And later, it was hard to get the high speed and I could not respond. Maybe I did not have the best legs for the sprint. During the day we worked a lot, but we came here with two reasons – to fight for the victory and to train for the classic season as well. So, I don’t see any problem in working during the stage. I hope the next sprint will be better and I will fight again for the stage. Anyway, I am happy I was in front group today and we managed to take some time in general classification,” said Alexander Kristoff.


“We did not make it today but at least we were there. We tried to do the lead-out and I was there fighting for the victory but in the end, I was not strong enough,” he told Cyclingnews.

“For me it was maybe a bit too slow when I was on the front there. We were planning to speed it up but I think all of the guys were a little bit tired. I thought we had a bit more tailwind coming in but it was not actually so fast, so in the end it was maybe better to be a little further back and go in the draft. In the end we tried with the guys that we had.”

“Tomorrow is another day and we’ll try again to do better in the sprint. But Cavendish, he is fast and it will be hard to beat him.

“Cavendish has in many years been a little bit faster than me so maybe it’s just that he’s more of a pure sprinter but I will try to be better, of course. I am not happy with fifth place. I have one day of racing now, so hopefully that will help for tomorrow.”


“First of all I want to say it was the first race in this season for this group. And, they showed really good themselves from the start until the finish line. In the front group we had four riders and that’s was good. In the final sprint we knew it would be hard with these sprinters as Cavendish, Modolo, Guardini, most of them already have some racing kilometers in the legs. But, of course, this is not an excuse. This is a high level race with top sprinters. So, one day they win, another day you win. In general, I am satisfied with the stage and our team. We did a really good stage today,” added sports director Torsten Schmidt.


Greg Van Avermaet pleased with great BMC performance in Qatar

BMC Racing Team finished with two riders in the top ten in a tough opening stage of the Tour of Qatar, taken out by Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) in a sprint finish.


The notorious winds of Qatar came into play today during the 180 kilometer stage, splitting the peloton into three groups from the 40 kilometer mark.


Greg Van Avermaet, Daniel Oss, Manuel Quinziato and Michael Schär made it in the lead group of 21 riders where they took control for much of the race and into the final kilometers.


The final sprint finish saw Van Avermaet cross the line in seventh place, followed by Quinziato in eighth.

For Van Avermaet it was a hard, but good day of racing to kick off his season.


“It was a typical Tour of Qatar stage. It was a really hard first day of racing, directly full gas from the start. I was pretty happy. We had four guys in the front and a strong team so I’m happy with how we went as I think we really controlled the race.


“We will see what the next days bring but I’m pretty confident that we will have some good next stages. It’s been a good day, I’m happy with my form and we’ll see how it goes.”


Van Avermaet sits in sixth place overall, 14 seconds behind Cavendish, and Quinziato in ninth at 15 seconds.


Stage 2 tomorrow sees the peloton race 135 kilometers, in what will be a test course for the 2016 World Road Race Championships to be held in Qatar later this year.


Fortuneo-Vital Concept time triallist ready to strike in Qatar

Arnaud Gérard showed himself on the first day of the Tour of Qatar, taking his place in the 16-rider front group. He is thus ideally placed from the start of the race ahead of an individual time trial where he will have his say.


Pierre-Luc Périchon and Steven Tronet limited the damage and lost less than two minutes.


”Just missed the split today and then a little get down later on, only a bit of skin. Hope for better tomorrow #qatar @FortuneoVitalC,” Fortuneo-Cital Concept sprinter Dan McLay tweeted after the stage.


Danish neo-pro takes white jersey at professional debut in Qatar

Among the first group, Team Giant-Alpecin were well represented with 3 riders, Søren Kragh Andersen, Tom Stansnijdert and Zico Waeytens. 


In his stage race debut for Team Giant-Alpecin Søren Kragh Andersen made an impressive start finishing 10th in the sprint and also taking the lead in the general classification of the pearl white jersey. This also ensures Team Giant-Alpecin first top 10 of the season. Søren Kragh Anderson is 11th overall, 15 seconds back.


After the race coach Marc Reef said: “After 40km of racing the peloton got split into two groups. We had Tom, Zico and Søren in the first group of 21 riders. With 15km remaining, Zico and Tom dropped out of the first group due to cramps. Søren finished in the first group of eventually 16 riders and he took the young jersey”.


Team LottoNL-Jumbo miss the split in Qatar desert

The Tour of Qatar’s first day ended in a small group sprint won by Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data).  He and 20 others broke free in the cross-winds after only 40 kilometres of racing. Moreno Hofland placed 18th.


The wind played a big role in the first stage from Dukhan to Al Khor Corniche, which saw 21 cyclists muscle free early on.


"We weren't strong enough to be part of that group,” sports director Jan Boven said after the race. "You can't say that it's a tactical mistake, because it's impossible to form a tactical plan in races like this. You just have to be in the right place and make sure that you're part of the first group."


Team LottoNL-Jumbo was unable to do that this time, but it didn't lose the stage because of that.


"The gap didn't become too big,” Boven continued. "At one point, we seemed to have a second chance in the stage because it was a real war. We lost two riders because of punctures and Twan Castelijns crashed heavily. We still were with three riders in the second group and with 30 kilometres to go, we were only 40 seconds behind. We didn't come closer than that, though. It was a fantastic stage, however, and this is why we came to Qatar."


The result of the first stage doesn't change Team LottoNL-Jumbo's plans in Qatar.


"We're taking it day by day,” Boven added. "We want to win a stage and that's possible. It's going to be a different race tomorrow. We have to make sure that we don't lose it in the first 60 kilometres. We will make our plan afterwards."



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