The Tour of Qatar gets underway on Monday 8 February and our African Team will be lining-up once again in the early season UCI 2.HC desert race. The race will be run over 5 stages with the 3rd stage being an 11km individual time trial.
As seasoned cycling fans will know already, the Tour of Qatar is made up of long, straight and very flat roads each day and so it is not the parcours that necessarily decides the outcome of the race. It is the gale force desert winds which so often decimates the peloton, creating echelon after echelon and causing the time gaps.
A strong team, able to ride at a high tempo in the gutter is what is required to be successful at the Tour of Qatar and we believe we will have such a squad on the start line this Monday. Mark Cavendish will once again headline our team with Edvald Boasson Hagen, Mark Renshaw, Tyler Farrar, Youcef Reguigui, Jay Thomson & Mekseb Debesay adding to our firepower for the event. Bernie Eisel was supposed to join our African Team too, but after breaking his collarbone this past Friday at the Dubai Tour, he will be replaced by Matt Brammeier.
The 11km individual time trial makes things quite interesting for the GC this year particularly if the TT specialists have lost time in the possible wind affected opening stages. In Eddy and Cav we have two proven race winners in our roster, and so the goal will be the top step of the podium on each stage for our African Team.
Jay Thomson – Rider
I’ve been watching this race for a few years now and I always thought it would be one of the craziest races to do and here I am about to race it for the first time. In some way I am excited and nervous all at once. I think this is always a race the classics guys use to see where their condition is leading into the classics that start at the end of February. If you are missing something small now you can try and remedy this before the big show goes down in Belgium. We are going there with an experienced team as Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw have each won stages and the overall GC before. Both are looking in great shape for winning stages there and possibly the overall.