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"The guys made Katusha work hard so they were tired, and in the end Kristoff was unable to win the sprint and take the 10 bonus seconds at the finish line. So, I took the win and I am happy."

Photo: ASO / B. Bade

NIKI TERPSTRA

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TOUR OF QATAR

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13.02.2015 @ 17:23 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Etixx - Quick-Step rider Niki Terpstra took home the Gold jersey as overall winner at Tour of Qatar for the second consecutive season, winning with an advantage of 6" over Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff-Saxo) and 9" over Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). Teammates of Terpstra did a fantastic job keeping crucial intermediate sprints from Kristoff, who was close enough in the GC to threaten Terpstra's race leadership between time bonuses and a possible Stage victory. But Tom Boonen, Iljo Keisse, and Matteo Trentin all contested the sprints and kept the crucial seconds out of the hands of anyone within seconds of Terpstra.

 

Iljo Keisse went on the attack with Gijs Van Hoecke (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise) after the second intermediate sprint at kilometer 90.5 of the final stage, but both were brought back in anticipation of the bunch sprint finale.

 

Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) won the stage, with Andrea Guardini (Astana) placing 2nd, and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) finishing 3rd. Matteo Trentin and Tom Boonen were 7th and 8th.

 

Kristoff finished outside the top 10, preventing him from gaining any additional time on Terpstra. Terpstra finished 25th with the peloton, sealing his GC victory.

 

Terpstra's overall win is the 9th in 2015 for Etixx - Quick-Step (8th road). He also won the Stage 3 ITT of Tour of Qatar.

 

Etixx - Quick-Step also won the Team Classification.

 

"It's satisfying," Terpstra said. "I came here to defend the title, or for sure go for a good placement. The time trial went so well that I was in the lead, and the team did a great job to defend my leadership for the rest of the stage race.

 

"I was a bit nervous before the start because if Kristoff had a really good day, and he was doing well so far with three stage wins already, he could still pass me with the bonus seconds, but he didn't get that. The guys made Katusha work hard so they were tired, and in the end Kristoff was unable to win the sprint and take the 10 bonus seconds at the finish line. So, I took the win and I am happy.

 

"Between my two GC victories, they were both tough. It's never easy to win. I have good condition now and knowing this gives me confidence for my next races.

 

"Winning at Tour of Qatar has become a bit of a tradition for the team. Look at the team we had this year, and we even won the Team Classification. Matteo Trentin was the 'smallest' guy on the team here, and he is actually not so small. We bring big, strong guys who are specialists in the windy conditions at Tour of Qatar and it shows every year. We have experience, and we know the roads here. It's a bit special. It's an important race for the team, so it's an important race for me.

 

"But really, every professional bike race is important for the team. I go to the start line taking every race as seriously as the one before and the one next.

 

"Sometimes the roads at Tour of Qatar seem really long, but the race is going too fast and it is too chaotic to ever consider this race boring. It isn't the parcours that dictates the race. The riders and the conditions dictate how a race will go, and at Tour of Qatar it is always full of action.

 

"I look to the next races with the understanding that each one deserves full attention, just as this one did for me and the team. For now I will celebrate this Tour of Qatar Gold jersey on my back, and I want to thank my teammates for making sure I took it home for the second straight season."

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