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Tony Cruz in front of the Peleton with Tour Winner Tom Boonen (right in yellow). Photo by Tim De Waele
Tony Cruz in front of the Peleton with Tour Winner Tom Boonen (right in yellow). Photo by Tim De Waele

Tour of Qatar Stage 6

1. February 2008


The weather has a say

The final stage of the 2008 Tour of Qatar (Al Wakra - Doha Corniche, 120 km) was always very likely to end in a mass sprint.

This eventuality was increased by the race organization’s decision to shorten the stage due to the rather severe weather conditions.   “It was a very, very windy day today,” John Lelangue explained, “so windy and stormy that they cancelled the first 45 kilometres of the race.”   Instead of making a tour around Al Wakra, the race headed straight for the 9 laps of 9 kilometres around the Doha Corniche.  “The race was effectively neutralized until we reached the Corniche, but then we tried to make our mark,” Lelangue related.

Launching the breakaways

From the beginning, BMC’s goal was to be an initiator of the action.  Today the conditions were finally ripe for just their style of racing.  “Once we hit the Corniche, Taylor Tolleson took off on his own to chase down one of the Qatari racers who was off the front,” Lelangue was pleased to report.  “They were joined by a third racer, and worked well together.  However, the strong teams in the pack worked hard to bring Taylor back.”  Lelangue said the team work did not stop there since with two laps remaining Jackson Stewart took a flyer.  “There were fewer than 20 kilometres left in the race by that point, but with the pack itching for a mass sprint, Jackson never had more than 45 seconds advantage,” Lelangue explained.

Practicing the lead-out train

With the race all together again, BMC worked hard to remain at the front of the pack, preparing to lead Tony Cruz to a high finish.  “We wanted to get our young guys practicing lead-outs in race situations, so Martin (Kohler) and Danilo (Wyss) helped Tony Cruz in the lead up to the sprint finish,” Lelangue said.  Overall, the team can be happy with its performances which were made somewhat harder by the conditions the race dictated.  “All of the teams suffered punctures and crashes, that is normal for Qatar,” Lelangue explained, “but we were happy to see our guys bounce back from the setbacks and really be among the main offensive players today.”