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"This kind of hard sprints suit me really well and I knew I had a chance today, but of course, after yesterday's stage I was not sure I would be able to do it."

Photo: QCF/Paumer

ALEXANDER KRISTOFF

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ANDREA GUARDINI

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BARRY MARKUS

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CCC DEVELOPMENT TEAM

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DIMENSION DATA

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GREG VAN AVERMAET

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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LIEUWE WESTRA

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MARK CAVENDISH

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MATEJ MOHORIC

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MIKE TEUNISSEN

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MORENO HOFLAND

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ROOMPOT-CHARLES

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SACHA MODOLO

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SVEN ERIK BYSTRØM

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SØREN KRAGH ANDERSEN

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TEAM JUMBO-VISMA

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TEAM SUNWEB

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TOUR OF QATAR

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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WANTY - GROUPE GOBERT

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YAUHENI HUTAROVICH

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09.02.2016 @ 18:14 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) bounced back from yesterday’s disappointment by beating Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) in a huge battle between the two giants on the second stage of the Tour of Qatar. After a big crash had left just a small group to sprint for the win, the Norwegian held off the Manxman when he tried to pass him on the right while Roy Jans (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) completed the podium. Cavendish defended the lead with a 5-second advantage over Kristoff.

 
We have gathered several reactions.
 

Alexander Kristoff: Yesterday’s performance gave me doubts

On a very windy day, Alexander Kristoff gave Team KATUSHA the first victory of the season, winning stage 2 of the Tour of Qatar. In the final bunch sprint Kristoff beat Mark Cavendish from Team Dimension Data and Roy Jans from Wanty – Groupe Gobert. Viacheslav Kuznetsov finished 10th.

 

”It was a little uphill here at the finish. It suited me quite well. We tried to enter the final km in a good position, but, of course, other teams had the same plans. In the last straight line I stayed on the wheel of Jacopo [Guarnieri] and it worked well. The whole team did a great job for the lead-out but also earlier in the day at front of the race. We had a great day and I am very happy. I could keep Cavendish behind me, but it was a very close sprint. After crossing the line I was not sure about the win, maybe I had just few centimeters. This kind of hard sprints suit me really well and I knew I had a chance today, but of course, after yesterday's stage I was not sure I would be able to do it. Tomorrow is another day. I am not such a good specialist of time trial, but we will see how close I can be. Also, we have Slava Kuznetsov and he has a chance to do well tomorrow. So, anyway we will try to do our best tomorrow and in other stages,” said Alexander Kristoff.

 

Stage 2 of the Tour of Qatar (135 km from Katara Cultural Village to Qatar University) became a test of the future Road World Championships which will be held in Doha in October. The riders did half of the distance outside Doha, while later the peloton entered the laps inside the city.

 

In the crosswind sections in the beginning of the race, Team KATUSHA was very active, making a strong ride in front which provoked some splits in the peloton. Finally, a group of 22 riders, including Alexander Kristoff, Viacheslav Kuznetsov, Jacopo Guarnieri and Michael Mørkøv, went away, getting a gap of 40 – 50 seconds over group of race leader Mark Cavendish. Later, on the local laps, the peloton has reunited.

In the final sprint Team KATUSHA did everything possible to bring Alexander Kristoff in front and to help him to get a perfect position for the sprint.

 

“I am absolutely happy for the boys, it was a great race and a very nice victory. Alex beat one of the fastest riders in the world and took a great win for the team. The wind made today’s race really hard, but our team was concentrated in every moment, so we stayed in front all the time. Later on the World Championships course the houses sheltered the peloton from the wind and Dimension Data brought their leader back. That was part of the game. We tried to play our cards on a crosswind sections. Dimension Data did their job and brought Cavendish back, while at the finish line we saw two of the strongest teams in a spectacular fight, “ added sports director Torsten Schmidt.

In the general classification, Mark Cavendish still holds the gold jersey of the overall leader. Alexander Kristoff moved up to second place, 5 seconds behind the leader. Viacheslav Kuznetsov is 6th, 18 seconds behind Cavendish.

 

KATUSHA’s Sven Erik Bystrøm, who finished 14th today, was able to move into the lead of the best young rider classification, getting the white-pearl jersey.

 

“I have really nice feelings. First of all, because of this great win of Alex. Also with this white jersey, which is a nice bonus for me. The first part of the race was quite hard because of these crosswind sections, but later on the circuit it was more technical, but at the same time, it was more easy to control the race,” said Sven Erik Bystrøm.

 

Team KATUSHA leads in the teams classification after two stages.

 

Mark Cavendish: Maybe the leader’s jersey cost me the win

A mass crash would affect the 2nd Tour of Qatar stage but the Dimension Data for Qhubeka team kept out of trouble in the front of peloton to have Mark Cavendish take second place in a photo finish with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).

 

After Edvald Boasson Hagen took second at the sprint for the African Team, there was a big split in the peloton with 4 notable groups forming.

 

It was a big scramble behind as 22 riders tried to get away, with only Boasson Hagen in the front group for Dimension Data and Bora having 5 while Katusha had 4 riders in this lead group. The gap was kept around 50" for some time as the chasing groups behind tried to regroup. Soon there were 4 Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders in front of race leader Mark Cavendish chasing down the dangerous move up front.

 

With 60km to go, the team were able to nullify the threat of the lead group and the race was all together heading onto the finishing circuit in Doha. 2 riders would get away on the circuit, but with the full complement of 8 riders now, the African Team could control the gap quite easily to set up another bunch sprint.

 

A number of teams would push their way to the front in the final 15km but it was always the African Team and Katusha who proved to be the strongest. In the final kilometer they went toe to toe with Katusha as there was a mass pile up just behind us. Boasson Hagen led it out followed by Kristoff and Cavendish. It looked like the Manxman was coming around the Katusha rider, even with the wind on his face, just before the line but on the photo, Kristoff got it by a close margin.

 

Boasson Hagen was able to hold on to 5th place on the stage and the results of the day saw Cavendish retain the gold leader’s jersey while the Norwegian champion moved up to 4th on GC ahead of tomorrow's all important time trial.

 

“That was a really close one,” Cavendish said. “We controlled it at the beginning and then it split in the middle and we thought it might come back anyway on the final circuits but we wanted to be at the front to kind of make life a bit easier but we ended up in the second split. It took some energy out of us but as soon as we caught the front group we were back riding again.

 

“The lads were superb again, coming to the final the wind kept changing from head to crosswind all the time so coming to the sprint the other teams were always going to come from behind but the Dimension Data guys kept me at the front really well.

 

“Edvald did a really, really good lead-out. Unfortunately, the wind was coming from the front right so you wanted the barrier side. I had to let Kristoff in so I knew I had to go on his outside which kind of made it harder for me. At the end of the day I was happy with how it went, on that finish I can't be too disappointed losing to Kristoff, he is strong on that type of finish. I am happy to keep to jersey. 

 

“It’s actually ironic that the difference in centimetres is the difference between wearing a leader’s jersey and a skinsuit – but I was happy to wear the leader’s jersey.

 

“It was neck and neck to the line, I actually thought he’d die but he didn’t. He just got it in the end, he’s strong,” Cavendish said. “I’m not majorly disappointed. I lost to Alexander Kristoff and it’s a good finish for him, slightly uphill. I was on the right in the crosshead, and I knew the outside would be difficult but shit happens.”

“I don’t think there’s many people who can match Edvald in a time trial from that front group we were in yesterday, so hopefully we can keep the jersey in the team.

 

“It was windier than I thought it was going to be actually, there wasn’t so much shelter from the buildings and the wind was coming always from a different direction when we moved around. I don’t think the final circuit will create any splits but it’s definitely going to be uncomfortable no matter where you are in the group. It’s going to be tiring after that distance, you know, you can’t sit in and chill for the final.”

 

“At the end of the day if you went on the big open roads and created echelons from the beginning, it’s too far to go for a 260-kilometre race. So I actually think in terms of having a World Championships here in Qatar it’s quite a sensible idea.

 

“It actually makes for quite a good World Championships. The people who write on your internet forums are going to want echelons and that but we’re not fucking robots, we’re not going to do that for 260k, no matter who’s there. So it’s quite a nice circuit. I think you’ll be surprised by how exciting it’ll be as a World Championship.”

 

“Today was another very difficult day in the wind,” sports director Roger Hammond said. “Katusha tried hard to attack but the guys rode really well as a team, keeping the race together in very difficult conditions. In the sprint Mark was a very close 2nd, retaining his lead which is really good for us.”

 

Roy Jans impresses in star-studded Qatar sprint

Roy Jans took an impressive third place in today's Tour of Qatar stage. The rider from Limbourg, Belgium only got beaten by Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data).

“I am very happy with this third place. When you see the names that are behind me in today's stage result, I just can not be unhappy. The level of sprinters in this race is really high." 

The day's stage took the peloton around a loop with start and finish in Doha (135km). The riders partly rode the world championships course. The echelons are always specific to the racing in Qatar. It makes the races really fast.

“Everyone is suffering here. Yesterday I saw all the echelons in the race. Today I found myself in the second echelon with Cavendish and Greg Van Avermaet. This reassured me that we would get back to the front of the race." 

This is exactly how the scenario unfolded and the stage ended in a bunch sprint. 

“In the final, Marco Marcato was my last lead-out rider but Mark McNally, Danilo Napolitano and Simone Antonini also did a great job today. Some riders crashed behind me but I didn't notice and didn't hear it. I was on my limit but heard them coming from behind. Maybe I rode a little bit too much in the wind, which came from the side and was pretty fierce today. I accelerated again and had just enough power to sprint to third. After that I was à bloc." 

“Tomorrow we'll have a short time trial but the day after that we'll have a long day in the desert again where echelons will happen. I hope to get another good result in the final two stages in Qatar." 

Kenny Dehaes crashed early on in yesterday's stage. The Flemish rider finished the race but had a serious wound to the knee.

“Today however, I mostly suffered from pain in the back and the ribs. Tomorrow we'll have that time trial so I hope to recover a little to be better in the final two days. The legs are feeling good." 

 

Greg Van Avermaet optimistic ahead of Qatar time trial

It was another sprint finish on stage 2 of the Tour of Qatar with Greg Van Avermaet finishing in fourth place behind stage winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).

 

Van Avermaet is in seventh place on the General Classification, 20 seconds from race leader Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Manuel Quinziato rounds out the top ten in tenth place.

 

Strong winds split the peloton into multiple groups in the opening 70 kilometers, before the groups re-joined as they started the first of four laps of a circuit which will make up part of the UCI World Championships road race course in October.

 

A crash in the final kilometer split the peloton, leaving a small group to battle it out in the sprint.

 

Van Avermaet gave credit to his BMC Racing Team teammates for their work in delivering him to the finish line in a good position.

 

“I’m really happy with the team’s work. They really supported me in the stage and especially in the end. They got me in a good position and took care of me. Finishing fourth, I’m pretty happy and lucky that I didn’t crash.”

 

Van Avermaet doubts that the UCI World Championships road race course will play to his strengths.

 

“It will be a technical course more for sprinters. I don’t think it is a really nice parcours but it is like it is and we will try to do our best there in October. But for me I don’t think there is a great chance to win.”

 

Stage 3 tomorrow is an 11 kilometer Individual Time Trial where Van Avermaet will hope to gain some second back from his rivals.

 

“I feel good and hope to do a good time tomorrow. And then we can see in the days after that.”

 

Sacha Modolo unable to repeat podium in crash-marred Qatar sprint

Sacha Modolo who was wearing the silver jersey of the leader of the points classification, demonstrated his good condition being once again among the riders who sprinted for the victory at the end of a demanding stage during which the peloton split several times.
 

At one moment, Modolo and Cavendish were in the second part of the bunch, but they succeeded in joining the first part.
 

Modolo managed to jointhe 6 riders who got an advantage on the rest of the bunch after a crash split the field but he could not reply to the impressive sprint of Kristoff. LAMPRE-MERIDA's rider was 7th and he's now 3rd in the overall classification.

LAMPRE-MERIDA started the stage without Matej Mohoric, who suffered an injury in a crash yesterday. The Slovenian rider underwent surgery on the left elbow in a Doha hospital and the surgery had a successful outcome.

 

"It was expected that the wind would have a decisive role today, especially after 35km where there was a crucial point in which we found ourselves having to chase the front group. The peloton has split into several parts. Modolo and Cimolai rode in the second group and managed to come back to the first part, followed a little later by Pibernik.

 

“In the sprint, Sacha tried to handle the last kilometer, but the situation was not optimal and he was unable to repeat the excellent result from yesterday.”

 

Roompot sprinter breaks collarbone in Qatar crash

There was massive disappointment for Barry Markus and Roompot - Orange peloton: in a crash in the final sprint of the second stage of the Tour of Qatar, the sprinter suffered a triple fracture to his collarbone. The rider who arrived from LottoNL-Jumbo during the winter, now has to undergo surgery and won’t be able to finish the race.

 

A few hundred meters before the finish of the stage, Markus was one of the riders who had to swerve after an unexpected maneuver. He hit the ground and three fractures of the clavicle were found during the tests at the hospital. He will probably undergo surgery in the near future.

 

CCC show themselves in crash-marred Qatar sprint

CCC Sprandi managed to avoid a crash which happened on the final straight of Stage 2 of the Tour of Qatar, and Tomasz Kiendyś took 9th on the line. In total, three CCC Sprandi Polkowice finished in the top 20.

 

“Here in Asia, almost every stage is very chaotic. The battle for good position starts right from the start and you have to stay focused until the very end. Crashes, mechanicals and elbowing happen on a daily basis and it was also the case today. We slightly lost contact in a first part of racing, but then we recovered and came back to the main group. In the end, Jarosław Marycz, Adrian Kurek and I were trying to find a safe position for the sprint, but the late crash forced us to go around it and think only about how not crash. With 400 meters to go I was right behind the group which was sprinting for the win, but I was too far back to take up the fight for the podium,” Tomasz Kiendyś said afterwards.

 

No riders from the team were among those who went down and they safely arrived at the line. Tomasz Kiendyś arrived in 9th place, while Jarosław Marycz and Adrian Kurek were 11th and 16th respectively.

 

Lieuwe Westra on the attack, Andrea Guardini hits the deck

“If I see a chance, I always try, but the wind was really strong today and always blowing against us, said Lieuwe Westra.

 

The Dutch rider left the pack with three other riders after only two kilometers and managed to gain a minute and a half on the main bunch.The breakaway was caught after more than 30 km, when the main group had broken into several small groups.

 

“The wind was too strong - commented Astana sports director Stefano Zanini, ”and marked the race by creating several echelons.

 

“We did four laps of the final circuit of the next road World Championships and I found it very technical with lots of curves and roundabouts. It is very suitable for a sprinter with great resistance.”

 

There was a crash 400 metres from the finish which left numerous riders on the ground, including Andrea Guardini who fortunately did not report any consequences.

 

Both Fortuneo-Vital Concept sprinters involved in Tour of Qatar crash

Well positioned 300m from the finish, both Fortuneo-Vital Concept sprinters Daniel McLay and Yauheni Hutarovich hit the deck and could not compete for the win. Arnaud Gérard finished 13th and Steven Tronet took 17th place. Boris Vallée had swung off a few kilometres earlier after doing a massive turn on the front.

 

Crash for me in the final, was more or less stopped so no damage! Tried to help @hutarovich for the sprint but he crashed also... Next time,” McLay tweeted after the stage.

 

Arnaud Gérard is 8th overall and hopes to improve in tomorrow’s time trial.

 

Moreno Hofland and Mike Teunissen bounce back for LottoNL-Jumbo in Qatar

The second stage of the Tour of Qatar ended in a bunch sprint near Doha’s centre. Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha) won the stage and Team LottoNL-Jumbo riders Mike Teunissen and Moreno Hofland rode in the race’s head group for some time.

 

As with the first stage of the Tour of Qatar, the wind was a factor on Tuesday. The 135-kilometre stage included four loops on the 2016 World Championships course that made it difficult to hold a gap with an echelon.

 

“You’re more comfortable when you’re in the first group,” sports director Jan Boven said. “Especially after yesterday’s miss, we wanted to show that we’re good enough to take a spot in the first group.

 

“We were focussed and in the right place with the whole team when the raced turned left after 30 kilometres. We knew that it was an important point in the race. Mike Teunissen and Moreno Hofland were in the first group and we had four men in the second echelon, as well.”

 

“Moreno and I were already very close to the first group yesterday, but today, we made it,” Teunissen said. “It was a pity that the four echelons folded together in the end, but it was good for our morale that we were there. The difference between yesterday and today was that we had a little bit of luck I guess. 150 riders know where you have to be in the front, but you just can’t be there every time.”

 

The worlds circuit included turn after turn over an artificial island called the Pearl. It was difficult for the front men to keep their advantage.

 

“The riders were able to see each other riding because of all the slow turns,” Boven added. “When everything came together, we made a plan for the bunch sprint. Unfortunately, we were a little bit too late. With 500 metres to go, a big crash happened and we were behind it. Fortunately, none of us were involved, but we have to evaluate our lead-out carefully to be better prepared.”

 

The riders will have to time trial 11 kilometres for the third stage of the Tour of Qatar. As per race rules, they must use normal road bikes. “That is the rule in this race, so we’re trying to take our advantage another way. We’ll adjust our tires and wheels the best we can. Especially with Jos van Emden, we will try to grab a good result.”

 

Danish neo-pro crashes out of white jersey in Qatar

Giant-Alpecin were in an ideal position to lauch the sprint in the last kilometre before a crash happened. Søren Kragh Andersen was involved and as a consequence he lost the white jersey.

 

With heavy crosswinds, the race got split into numerous groups with 22 riders in the front group, leaving theTeam Giant-Alpecin riders in a fourth group. Team Giant-Alpecin riders eventually made the junction with the third and second group and managed to close the gap to the first group with 85 kilometres remaining.

 

Team Giant-Alpecin highest place finisher was Tom Stamsnijder in 59th place. In the overall classification, Søren Kragh Andersen is 14th, 21”seconds behind the leader and he is now second in the Pearl White Jersey classification.

 

After the race coach Marc Reef said: ” This was always going to be a challenging day of racing. There was a lot of wind and after 32 kilometers it was important to be at the front of the peloton. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to be in a good position and we ended up in the fourth group of riders.

 

“After 85 kilometers, the second group made the junction with the first group, however at that moment Johannes [Fröhlinger] was involved in a crash and after the race he had to be transported to the hospital for some stitches on his knee.

 

“In the last kilometre, there was a crash which ruined our chances to sprint with Søren. Fortunately, he managed to get back on his bike.

 

“All the riders are ok and we look forward to tomorrow’s time trial stage.”

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