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“Brad is where he need to be. He’s looking strong and has been doing a lot of extra work out here before and after the racing."

Photo: Sirotti










13.02.2015 @ 16:26 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe both sealed top-10 finishes for Team Sky as the Tour of Qatar reached a gripping conclusion in Doha.


Stannard and Rowe began the day fourth and seventh on the general classification, and defended their positions on an intriguing sixth stage.


The action got off to a fast start with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) looking to close time on overnight leader Niki Terpstra (Etixx – Quick-Step) at the first intermediate sprint.


Kristoff moved within nine seconds of the gold jersey by picking up two bonus seconds, and that meant it was all to play for at the finish with 10 further seconds available at the line.


It wasn’t to be for Kristoff though, and Terpstra defended his title after the Norwegian could only manage 19th place in the sprint finish. It was Sam Bennett who emerged as a surprise stage winner, with the Bora-Argon 18 rider digging deep to outpace Andrea Guardini (Astana) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) in a frantic finale.


Stannard and Rowe meanwhile, crossed the line in a large front group to consolidate their places on the overall standings. Terpstra was also there to ensure he triumphed with a six-second cushion over Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff-Saxo), with Kristoff three seconds further back in third.



As the bikes were being packed onto a trailer for their trip back to Europe, Sports Director Servais Knaven gave his thoughts on a hard-fought race, and the end result.


He told “It went right to the wire today in terms of the overall result, but for us it was always a matter of defending Ian and Luke’s positions. That meant following the bunch and protecting them so they didn’t lose any time.


“The team helped those two all day long and then CJ had a go in the sprint. Unfortunately we couldn’t offer him much support as we couldn’t afford to lose any time. It was hectic at the end there, with some crosswinds as well, and in the end he was 23rd.


“I’m happy with the way we’ve performed this week. We had some guys starting their season here and they got better every day. The goal was to make the podium and we only missed that on account of Kristoff picking up over 30 bonus seconds with his three stage wins. The form is getting better and we’re in a good place ahead of the Classics.”



Knaven also gave an update on Bradley Wiggins’s form as he counts down to a concerted attempt at the Classics.


He added: “Brad is where he need to be. He’s looking strong and has been doing a lot of extra work out here before and after the racing.


“It’s been a good training block for him and he’s grown in stature as the race has gone on. This was a big step in terms of his preparations for the Classics, and we’re only two weeks away now.


“He’ll continue to build up his training over the next fortnight and we’ll do some reconnaissance work to make sure he’s ready for the races.” 



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