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“Even when we were both back in the group, the pace never settled down and with 5km to go Katusha split things up again. That meant Ian and I had to chase like mad to get back on in the last kilometre and not lose any time."






12.02.2015 @ 17:38 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe battled valiantly on a brutal fifth day of the Tour of Qatar but it was Alexander Kristoff who was celebrating once again after bagging a hat-trick of stage victories.


Stannard and Rowe both needed tyre changes at key points in the stage and the effort it took to regain contact meant they couldn’t contest another gripping conclusion.


Indeed, the duo rode brilliantly to regain parity after a group of 10 riders broke clear in the last 5km, but dropped back as the sprinters went toe to toe in Madinat Al Shamal.


Stannard and Rowe crossed the line in 17th and 22nd places respectively after Kristoff had once again got the better of Peter Sagan. The Norwegian led out the sprint and pipped his rival in a photo finish after the Tinkoff-Saxo rider had produced a determined late kick.


The victory also saw Kristoff (Katusha) leapfrog Stannard to third place in the overall standings, with Sagan knocking Rowe off the top of the young rider classification. Nike Terpstra, meanwhile, retained his six-second lead over Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff-Saxo) in the battle for the gold leader’s jersey.


After the stage, Rowe was able to reflect on a hard day in the office, and believes there is still plenty to fight for during the final day of action.

He told “It was a typical day out here in Qatar – a fight from kilometre zero – but our team-mates looked after us brilliantly.  I had a double puncture when the race was splitting for a second time in the crosswinds, and Ian had a rear flat in that last hour of action.


“Even when we were both back in the group, the pace never settled down and with 5km to go Katusha split things up again. That meant Ian and I had to chase like mad to get back on in the last kilometre and not lose any time. It was every man for himself for most of the guys but we worked together and gave everything we could to hold the wheel.


“We both dropped positions due to Kristoff and Sagan picking up bonus seconds, but we couldn’t do much about that. They are two of the fastest finishers in the world and that’s racing.


“On paper, tomorrow should be more straightforward as the race ends in the centre of Doha. We’re expecting a bunch sprint but you never know what’s going to happen so you have to stay alert. The race is far from over as Kristoff is only 11 seconds off the win and he’ll be looking to take the stage and pick up some more bonuses in the intermediate sprints.” 



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