Report: Stage 1 – Tour of Qatar


Niki Terpstra gives his Omega Pharma Quickstep team a boost after a victory on stage 1 of the Tour of Qatar as peloton fails to bring back break

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Like a year ago, in Dukhan, when Brent Bookwalter captured the first stage, clear from the pack of sprinters, Niki Terpstra made the best of his breakaway to clinch his first win on the 2014 Tour of Qatar.


Stage win for Niki Terpstra on stage 1 of the Tour of Qatar. ©ASO/B. Bade

With just under 30kms to go, the Dutchman from Omega Pharma – Quickstep who had been extremely active all along the day, managed to break away, taking with him four other men. He eventually outsprinted his rivals. Terpstra captures the first leader’s Golden Jersey.

After rain showers hit Qatar during the morning, the skies miraculously cleared for the start of the first stage of the men’s Tour of Qatar by the sea in Al Wakra. A hundred and fifty two riders faced a 135.5 kilometre ride all the way to Dukhan beach on the west coast of Qatar.

No rain, no clouds but a very strong wind was the challenge! Indeed the pace was impressively fast straight from the start (over 70km/h). Lieeuwe Westra (AST) was the first to manage a significant break at km 9, enjoying a 20” lead but he was soon to be gobbled up by the chasing pack at km 18.

The first intermediate sprint (Mesaieed, km 20) was claimed by Terpstra (OPQ) ahead of Kristoff (KAT) and Bennett (TNE) while the pack remained bunched. At kilometre 32, five men broke away: Kohler (BMC), Westra (AST), Houlé (ALM), Salomein (TSV) and Chtioui (SKD). Their lead went from 1’35 at km 34 to a maximum 6’20 at km 40.

Under the influence of the crosswind and while some of the big guns of the Tour pushed harder on their pedals, the peloton broke up into several groups. Twenty one riders managed to break away including Boonen (OPQ), Cancellara (TFR), Greipel (LTB) and Gilbert (BMC). They caught the front five as soon as km 59. Eventually, the different groups came back together again at km 95.

Another decisive move occurred just before the second bonus sprint (Umm Bab, km 107.5) when Niki Terpstra took off on his own. He went on to win that sprint with a 5” lead over Roelandts (LTB) and Schar (BMC). These three men continued their efforts and were joined by Van Kersbulck (OPQ) and Elmiger (IAM), already a key actor of last year’s final breakaway on stage 1.

The front five riders had a 25” lead with 25 kilometres to go and that advantage grew to 32” in the last 5 kilometres. Despite strong efforts from the sprint teams bar Omega Pharma-Quickstep who had two men at the front, the escapees kept a decent enough lead to consider a stage victory on the last straight along Dukhan Beach. Ever present at the front all day, Niki Terpstra powered to the line to win his first individual stage in Qatar (he had already won a team time-trial).

The 29 year-old Dutchman from Bewerwijk beat Jurgen Roelandts and Michael Schar to the line. Thanks to his 12th career win, Terpstra captures the overall leader’s Golden Jersey as well as the leadership in the points’ classification.

After this first stage, Sam Bennett (TNE) claims the Pearl White jersey for the best young rider.

090214 OPQS Tour Qatar Stage 1 Arrival -Terpstra ©Tim De Waele

Stage win for Niki Terpstra in Qatar. Photo: OPQS/Tim de Waele

“First part of the stage was crosswinds so actually that was the hardest part,” Terpstra said. “In the end we had head wind, so the speed was going down, but then we attacked with five riders. Luckily we could keep a small gap until the finish.”

“Fighting against the wind is always hard but in the end we made it. I’m really happy Guillaume was in the front group with me. He worked really hard. He gave me some motivation and in the end I still had enough energy to do the sprint and it worked out well.”

“So I have to say thanks to him for using all his energy to help give me the best chance for a victory.”

OPQS was able to take a total team effort to put the two riders in the breakaway.

“The team was great all day,” Terpstra said. “When we had an echelon after 55km, we were there with five riders. A big group came back, but not everyone. Then in the final after the bonus sprint we got in a breakaway of five. In that group we participated really well together, especially Guillaume. What he did in the last kilometre was perfect for me and I’m happy I could finish the job.”

“It was pretty windy today,” Van Keirsbulck said. “But, I had a good feeling. When me and Niki were in the break, I asked him if he felt good and he said yes. So, then I started riding until I was dead. At one point, I lost them for about 20 meters, but not more, so I tried to come back. I managed to do it and then tried to attack, which put Niki in a perfect position because the others had to react and use energy. I’m really happy we won today and I could be a big part of it.”

OPQS CEO Patrick Lefevere was proud of the first road victory of 2014 for the team. “It’s always a pleasure to get the first victory of the year,” Lefevere said. “Today the team was strong. They took the initiative and Niki had a great win, so of course with this I am happy.”

090214 OPQS Tour Qatar Stage 1 Podium-Terpstra ©Tim De Waele

 Race leader Niki Terpstra in the Tour of Qatar. Photo: OPQS/Tim de Waele

1 TERPSTRA Niki Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 03:13:42
2 ROELANDTS Jurgen Lotto Belisol 00:01
3 SCHAR Michael BMC Racing Team
4 ELMIGER Martin IAM Cycling
5 VAN KEIRSBULCK Guillaume Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 00:07
6 BOONEN Tom Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team
7 MARKUS Barry Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
8 DéMARE Arnaud
9 VAN STAEYEN Michael Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise
10 SIEBERG Marcel Lotto Belisol

14 BENNETT Sam Team NetApp – Endura
23 GREIPEL André Lotto Belisol
24 FENN Andrew Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team
26 BOOM Lars Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
29 KEISSE Iljo Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team
38 STANNARD Ian Team Sky
40 GILBERT Philippe BMC Racing Team
43 CANCELLARA Fabian Trek Factory Racing
47 DEMPSTER Zakkari Team NetApp – Endura
68 ROWE Luke Team Sky 01:47
70 THWAITES Scott Team NetApp – Endura
71 SCHWARZMANN Michael Team NetApp – Endura 02:05

1 TERPSTRA Niki Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 3:13:26
2 ROELANDTS Jurgen Lotto Belisol 0:09
3 SCHAR Michael BMC Racing Team 0:12
4 ELMIGER Martin IAM Cycling 0:17
5 KRISTOFF Alexander Team Katusha 0:21
6 BENNETT Sam Team NetApp – Endura 0:22
7 VAN KEIRSBULCK Guillaume Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:23
8 BOONEN Tom Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team
9 MARKUS Barry Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
10 DéMARE Arnaud



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