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“It was a short stage and as we expected a sprint. Katusha was controlling the racefrom the start for Kristoff, so there was nothing to do today but look to the sprint at the end. We were all there and tried again to help Jasper."

Photo: Trek Factory Racing




13.02.2015 @ 17:28 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The fight was on for the overall victory as Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) tried to wrestle the gold jersey from Niki Terpstra (Etixx-Quick Step) through bonus seconds in the short 113-kilometer final stage six.


There was little chance for the four-man breakaway that surged ahead in the early going with Team Katusha leading the charge. Everything was together heading into the first sprint bonus where Kristoff inched closer, grabbing second place and two valuable seconds. He needed only to win the stage to clinch the jersey. But so did second placed Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff-Saxo) who started the stage only six seconds behind Terpstra. It was headed towards an exhilarating finish for the six-day Tour of Qatar.


However, when the finale played out Kristoff, who won three stages, could muster no better than 19th and Bodnar 17th as Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon18) played hero for the final stage, taking the final sprint and cementing Niki Terpstra the overall.


Trek Factory Racing knew today’s stage would be quick and a sprint finish would likely end it all; they focused on the finale to help Jasper Stuyven position well for a feverish and exciting ending to the six days.


“It was a short stage and as we expected a sprint. Katusha was controlling the racefrom the start for Kristoff, so there was nothing to do today but look to the sprint at the end. We were all there and tried again to help Jasper,” director Dirk Demol explained when reached by phone shortly after the race ended.


It was great teamwork in the final kilometers and Stuyven sprinted to 9th place, squeezing into the top 10 where centimeters can often be the difference separating the top riders jammed together over the line. 


Stuyven, 22, not a pure sprinter and often better suited to the lead out, has battled against some of the fastest sprinters all week, giving the young Belgian a wealth of learning experience in chaotic bunched sprints. 


Stuyven was the top finisher for the team in the final classification (12th at 55”). All week he showed grit in the Qatar winds and gave us a glimpse of his great future with an incredible performance in the stage two sandstorms where he arrived with only 14 other survivors.


Jasper Stuyven heads home as the rest of Trek Factory Racing will move on to the Tour of Oman, the final stage race in the Middle East that begins Tuesday. Climber Julian Arredondo joins the team in the six-day race that offers a mix of short, steep hills and flat stages.


“It’s good that we all finished well, and also Danny [van Poppel] was a bit better today then the past days,” continued Demol. “I was hoping of course that we would have a stage win, and we just missed that with second in the time trial. We fought hard this week. It was a very hard race this year, not only because of the weather conditions, with the sandstorm the second day, but it was also by far the strongest field they have ever had here in Qatar.  And it looks like Oman will be the same as some good riders like Chris Froome will be there [he won't be there, ed.].


“Gert [Steegmans] should be able to start in Oman, his back was feeling better already.  Jasper will fly home and Julian will arrive. Not all the riders who raced Qatar will move on to Oman, so there may be a chance that Danny can go after a nice result. 


“I am not really sure condition-wise where Julian is, he was not at the training camp in January. But normally we will look to Julian for the uphill finish and the GC.


“Qatar was a good start to prepare the spring campaign and we will continue in Oman. We will do our best, like always.”



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