Tour of Qatar – Stage 2

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Photo finish on stage 2 of the Tour of Qatar as Kristoff gets the better of Cavendish in crashfest finish

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Tour of Qatar – Stage 2

Alexander Kristoff brings to Katusha first win of the season

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On a very windy day, Alexander Kristoff brought to Team Katusha the first victory of the season, winning stage 2 of the Tour of Qatar from Britain’s Mark Cavendish. In the final bunch sprint, marred by big crash when a central reservation was not barried or flagged, Kristoff got the better of Mark Cavendish from Team Dimension Data and Roy Jans from Wanty – Groupe Gobert.

Kristoff: “It was a little uphill here at the finish and it suited me quite well. We tried to enter the final km in a good position, but, of course, other teams had the same plans. In the last straight line I stayed on the wheel of Jacopo and it worked well.”


“The whole team did a great job for the lead out but also earlier in the day at front of the race. We had a great day and I am very happy. I could hold Cavendish behind me, but it was a very close sprint. After crossing the line, I was not sure about the win, maybe I had just few centimeters”.

“This kind of hard sprints suit me really well and I knew I had a chance today, but of course, after yesterday’s stage I was not sure I would be able to do it. Tomorrow is another day. I am not such a good specialist of time trial, but we will see how close I can be. Also, we have Slava Kuznetsov and he has a chance to do well tomorrow. So, anyway we will try to do our best tomorrow and in other stages.”

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Photo © Tim De Waele / Team KATUSHA

THE STAGE
The second 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. Four riders tried to muscle away in the early kilometres, but after getting a minute gap, Katusha and Bora brought them back in order to contest the first intermediate sprint of the day.

After, there was a big split in the peloton with four notable groups forming. It was a big scramble behind as 22 riders tried to get away, and the likes of Cavendish not present in the group. The gap was kept around 50″ for some time as the chasing groups behind tried to regather and with 60km to go, the race came together heading onto the finishing circuit in Doha.

Two riders would get away on the circuit, but the sprint teams were never going to let them stay away and it came down to a bunch kick. In the final kilometre, Dimension Data went toe to toe with Katusha as there was a mass pile up just behind them.

Edvald Boasson Hagen, the Tour of Britain winner, 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. Cavendish retained the gold leader’s jersey.

Mark Cavendish – “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 second split”.

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“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.

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team): “I’m really happy with the team’s work. They really supported me in the stage and especially in the end. They got me in a good position and took care of me. Finishing fourth, I’m pretty happy and lucky that I didn’t crash.”

Van Avermaet doubts that the UCI World Championships road race course will play to his strengths. “It will be a technical course more for sprinters. I don’t think it is a really nice parcours but it is like it is and we will try to do our best there in October. But for me I don’t think there is a great chance to win.”

“I feel good and hope to do a good time tomorrow. And then we can see in the days after that.”

Roy Jans (Team Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “Everyone is suffering here. Yesterday I saw all the echelons in the race. Today I found myself in the second echelon with Cavendish and Greg Van Avermaet. This reassured me that we would get back to the front of the race. This is exactly how the scenario unfolded and the stage ended in a bunch sprint”.

“In the final, Marco Marcato was my last lead-out rider but Mark McNally, Danilo Napolitano and Simone Antonini also did a great job today. Some riders crashed behind me but I didn’t notice and didn’t hear it. I was on my limit but heard them coming from behind. Maybe I rode a little bit too much in the wind, which came from the side and was pretty fierce today. I accelerated again and had just enough power to sprint to third. After that I was à bloc.”

“Tomorrow we’ll have a short time trial but the day after that we’ll have a long day in the desert again where echelons will happen. I hope to get another good result in the final two stages in Qatar.”

Tomorrow will be held the third stage of the race – a traditional time trial on Lusail Circuit, 11,4 km.

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STAGE
1. Alexander Kristoff, Team Katusha 3:11:26
2. Mark Cavendish, Dimension Data
3. Roy Jans, Wanty – Groupe Gobert
4. Greg Van Avermaet,BMC Racing Team
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen, Dimension Data
6. Andrea Francesco Palini, Skydive Dubai
7. Sacha Modolo, Lampre – Merida
8. Andr̩ Looij, Roompot РOranje Peloton
9. Tomasz Kiendys, CCC Sprandi Polkowice
10. Viacheslav Kuznetsov, Team Katusha
45. Matt Brammeier, Dimension Data
47. Scott Thwaites, Bora-Argon 18
66. Mark Mcnally, Wanty – Groupe Gobert
114. Sam Bennett, Bora-Argon 18
119. Daniel McLay, Fortuneo – Vital Concept

OVERALL
1. Mark Cavendish, Dimension Data 6:39:51
2. Alexander Kristoff, Team Katusha 0:00:05
3. Sacha Modolo, Lampre – Merida 0:00:14
4. Andrea Guardini, Astana Pro Team 0:00:17
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen, Dimension Data 0:00:18
6. Viacheslav Kuznetsov, Team Katusha
7. Greg Van Avermaet, BMC Racing Team 0:00:20
8. Arnaud Gerard, Fortuneo – Vital Concept 0:00:21
9. Sven Erik Bystrøm, Team Katusha
10. Manuel Quinziato, BMC Racing Team

12. Zakkari Dempster, Bora-Argon 18
13. Sam Bennett, Bora-Argon 18
35. Scott Thwaites, Bora-Argon 18
37. Matt Brammeier, Dimension Data
38. Mark Mcnally, Wanty – Groupe Gobert
123. Daniel McLay, Fortuneo – Vital Concept

Points
1. Mark Cavendish, Dimension Data 32 pts
2. Alexander Kristoff, Team Katusha 27
3. Sacha Modolo, Lampre – Merida 17

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