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“Gert is still nursing injuries from his crash in Mallorca where he fractured his big toe and banged his knee hard. He was hoping he would be okay here but for a couple of days now he has also been suffering pain in his back."

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele




12.02.2015 @ 17:35 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

It was day five in the harsh desert racing of the Tour of Qatar and the 153-kilometer stage threw everything at the riders again. The winds raged in the beginning, splitting the peloton with only 40 riders making the front group, but calmed later to allow a general regrouping of the troops.


“It was a super fast start, and it split into three groups. We had five of us in the front group, which only numbered 40 riders. It was a very good start for us.  But later on, at around 100 kilometers, everything came back together,” said Trek Factory Racing director Dirk Demol as he explained how stage five unfolded.


In a brief moment of tranquility five men slipped off the front to form a breakaway. A nonchalant peloton permitted the five a lead until the final kilometers when the chase heated and forced another explosion amongst tired legs.


A group of 10 separated from the rest. Race leader Niki Terpstra (Etixx-Quick Step) missed the move and with only a handful of kilometers left a frantic chase ensued. By the final two kilometers the leading group had swelled to over 30 and Terpstra avoided disaster, but after another day of constant fighting in the Qatar winds it is clear the wills and legs of most have taken a beating.


Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff snagged his third victory, albeit the closest one so far as Peter Sagon’s (Tinkoff-Saxo) late bike throw almost stole the show.


Jasper Stuyven was again the highest finisher for Trek Factory Racing in 12th place. 



The unfortunate news from the Trek Factory Racing camp was Gert Stegmans abandonment from the race today. Director Demol explained the reason why the Belgian has not been his usual force in Qatar:


“Gert is still nursing injuries from his crash in Mallorca where he fractured his big toe and banged his knee hard. He was hoping he would be okay here but for a couple of days now he has also been suffering pain in his back. At the start today he was in the first echelon, but then he felt something blocked in his leg and he could not go on anymore. He abandoned, and that is a pity.”


Trek Factory Racing has also been with out the full service of its young sprinter Danny van Poppel who was sick prior to the start of Qatar and has not been at his normal level since the start of the six-day event.


The racing in Qatar is never easy, and the mental strain of battling in the winds is as wearing as the physical. Each day Trek Factory Racing is motivated to wreak havoc in the winds and see what damage they might inflict to whittle down the numbers and increase their chances in the finales. However, the unpredictable winds and the unrelenting mental and physical stress of desert racing can ruin most best-laid plans; all that one can do is try, then try again.


“At the briefing before the race we talked about trying to get a smaller group formed for the end on the circuits, and try to do something. It was looking good when we had five of us there; we were well represented in the front,” said Demol. “Then later everything came back together.


“So at the end we have no result again, but it is like it is. You can have a plan, and execute it, but in racing it does not always end the way you want. You always have the hope when you come here to get a good result and win a stage, but it’s never that easy.


“But even without a big result Qatar is also a very good race to work on the condition: it’s a very hard race in the wind everyday, it’s nervous, it’s intense.  With Qatar and Oman we will come out with good form and better prepared for the Classics.”



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