Tour of Qatar – 3 Stages for Kristoff


Win number three for Kristoff in Qatar, Adam Blythe 5th and Ian Stannard drops to 4th overall due to bonuses for the stage winner

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Tour of Qatar – 3 Stages for Kristoff 

QATAR _TOQ15_5_Kristoff_web

After a tremendous battle as soon as the first kilometres of racing, the pack eventually made it bunched on the final circuit around Madinat Al Shamal. Like on the previous day, Alexander Kristoff claimed the stage win in impressive fashion. The Norwegian however only just beat Peter Sagan to the line while Nikias Arndt again finished third. Kristoff captured his third stage success on the 2015 Tour of Qatar. Despite a fright in the closing moments of the race, Niki Terpstra managed to finish in the pack and retains his overall leader’s Golden Jersey.

It was as windy as on the previous stages when the 139 remaining riders of the 14th edition of the Tour of Qatar gathered around the splendid Al Zubarah Fort for the start of stage 5. On the day’s menu: a 153kms race heading south-east at first, before returning to the Fort and finishing on a circuit around Madinat Al Shamal.

As soon as the first kilometres, the Etixx Quickstep team accelerated and the pack broke up into several echelons. Just under 40 riders were present at the front including Golden Jersey Niki Terpstra (EQS), Silver Jersey Alexander Kristoff (KAT), White Pearl Jersey Luke Rowe (SKY), as well as Peter Sagan (TCS), Adam Blythe (OGE) and Tom Boonen (EQS). Several big names however were left stranded in the chasing group including the second rider overall Maciej Bodnar (TCS) and Fabian Cancellara (TFR). A tremendous battle went on between the two bunches at an average speed of close to 50km/h. The gap however never went over 35”. Eventually, after 62 kilometres of an impressive combat, the peloton bunched up together.

Just a few kilometres later, five men managed to take off: Hermans (BMC), Haller (KAT), Gruzdev (AST), Wallays (TSV) and Hayman (OGE). This leading quintet enjoyed a 50” advantage at km 80. At the first intermediate sprint (km 87) won by Hayman ahead of Wallays and Gruzdev, the pack was 1’38 adrift. The gap reached a maximum 2’35 at km 102 before the chase intensified.

At the second bonus sprint (km 126), claimed again by Hayman in front of Wallays and Gruzdev, the peloton had seriously closed in, 38” adrift. The front five were eventually caught at km 135 with just over one lap to go. In the final ten kilometres, the Tinkoff Saxo squad pushed harder and ten men powered away: Boonen, Van Keirsbulcke (EQS), Sagan, Bodnar, Breschel (TCS), Kristoff, Bystrom, Guarnieri, Paolini (KAT) and Blythe (OGE), but no Niki Tersptra. Despite enjoying a slim 15” advantage, the front group was however caught before the final explanation.

At the end of the long straight in Madinat Al Shamal, Alexander Kristoff again proved he was the fastest sprinter of the bunch. Like on the previous day in Mesaieed, the Norwegian beat Peter Sagan and Nikias Arndt to the line, capturing his third stage success this year. Thanks to his victory, the winner of Milan – San Remo last year moves up to third spot overall. Finishing in the pack, Niki Terpstra keeps his leader’s Golden Jersey and with one stage to go has a 6” advantage over Bodnar and 11” over Kristoff. The White Jersey for the best young rider changes shoulders and goes to Peter Sagan.

Luke Rowe drops to second in Young Rider classification

Luke Rowe (having a joke with Kristoff at the start of the stage) has dropped to second in the Young riders jersey due to the bonuses that Peter Sagan has got in the sprints. 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.”

1. Alexander Kristoff, Team Katusha 3:03:01
2. Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo
3. Nikias Arndt, Team Giant-Alpecin
4. Tom Boonen, Etixx – Quick-Step
5. Adam Blythe, Orica GreenEdge
6. Heinrich Haussler, IAM Cycling
7. Jose Joaquin Rojas, Movistar Team
8. Arnaud Demare,
9. Greg Van Avermaet, BMC Racing Team
10. Nacer Bouhanni, Cofidis, Solutions Credits

17. Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky
22. Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky
28. Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Bora-Argon 18
29. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
94. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky 2.10
115. Scott Thwaites (GBr) Bora-Argon 18
131. Andrew Fenn (GBr) Team Sky 6.38

General classification after stage 5 Result
1. Niki Terpstra, Etixx – Quick-Step 15:12:45
2. Maciej Bodnar, Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:06
3. Alexander Kristoff, Team Katusha 0:00:11
4. Ian Stannard, Team Sky 0:00:12
5. Greg Van Avermaet, BMC Racing Team 0:00:19
6. Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:31
7. Luke Rowe, Team Sky 0:00:33
8. Heinrich Haussler, IAM Cycling 0:00:39
9. Andriy Grivko, Astana Pro Team 0:00:41
10. Tom Boonen, Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:42

Young rider classification Result
1. Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo 15:13:16
2. Luke Rowe, Team Sky 0:00:02

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