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“For the first 35k it was tailwind, then almost all day a headwind, so it ended with an expected sprint today.  Our plan was to try something with Danny [van Poppel], but he crashed with around 35k to go."

Photo: Trek Factory Racing






11.02.2015 @ 17:26 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

It was the calmest day thus far at the Tour of Qatar. The winds were still blowing hard, but for the 165.5-kilometer fourth stage it was either a tailwind or headwind, and the absence of crosswinds meant an absence of echelons.


For the first time, it was a mostly intact peloton that contested the sprint finish.


Unfortunately, Trek Factory Racing took a blow to its chances when sprinter Danny van Poppel was caught up in a crash with 35 kilometers to go. 


“For the first 35k it was tailwind, then almost all day a headwind, so it ended with an expected sprint today.  Our plan was to try something with Danny [van Poppel], but he crashed with around 35k to go. It was not too bad and he is okay and was able to finish with no problem, but it took our best sprinter out of the race, and so at the end we did not have a result,” explained director Dirk Demol.


Without the fast legs of van Poppel it was again up to Jasper Stuyven to mix it up with some of the world’s best sprinters.  Although the team was there to help, the chaotic nature of the mass sprint dictated no better than an 11th place for Stuyven today.


“It was all day a headwind so everyone was soft pedaling and still fresh for the finale. It was chaos out there. We tried our best and it didn’t work out like we wanted it to. I don’t even know where I finished – it was not really good,” explained Stuyven.


When Stuyven was told he made 11th, he responded, “Ah okay. It was not as bad as I thought."  Then added, "We were all really motivated to bring some damage to the peloton since we were expecting crosswinds again, but it didn’t turn out like this.”


Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won the frenzied finale, his second victory in Qatar, ahead of Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin).  


The roads in Qatar are wide, straight, windswept highways and the finales are a tidal wave of riders raging and rolling in turmoil towards the finish line. Watching from the outside the chaos is evident: riders hop curbs, skirt around orange road cones, and squeeze into impossible holes - the fight for position is everything.


From the inside the anarchy is normal.


“I don’t think the sprinting is any different here than in Europe,” Stuyven replied when asked about the bunch sprints in Qatar.  “It is the same battle here, same riders, same tactics, and same chaos.”


The always-prevalent winds of Qatar created a different ending today than anticipated, but Trek Factory Racing is motivated for a hard race tomorrow and prepared to face a day of grueling echelons should the crosswind conditions return. With two stages to go, the team is ready for more.



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