A mass crash would affect the 2nd Tour of Qatar stage but our Dimension Data for Qhubeka team kept out of trouble in the front of peloton to have Mark Cavendish take 2nd place in a photo finish with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). Roy Jans (Wanty Gobert) was 3rd.
The 2nd stage of the of the Tour of Qatar saw the peloton head off into a stern headwind, making for a tough start to the day. 4 riders tried to muscle away in the early kilometers, but after getting a minute gap, Katusha and Bora brought them back in order to contest the first intermediate sprint of the day. After Edvald Boasson Hagen took 2nd at the sprint for our 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 Edvald in the front group for us 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 regather. Soon there were 4 Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders in front of our race leader, Mark Cavendish, chasing down the dangerous move up front.
With 60km to go, our 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 our full complement of 8 riders now, our 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 our African Team and Katusha who proved to be the strongest. In the final kilometer we went toe to toe with Katusha as there was a mass pile up just behind us. Edvald 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 tyres width.
Edvald 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 our Norwegian champion moved up to 4th on GC ahead of tomorrow’s all important time trial.
Mark Cavendish – Rider
That was a really close one. 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 2nd 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 leadout. 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.
Roger Hammond – Sport Director
Today was another very difficult day in the wind. 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.