2.12.2015

Tour of Qatar 5: Split!

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It's the start and it's already splitting with TFR pulling in front. Wiggins and Gilbert are caught behind. Bouhanni punctures. It's already Qatar: windy, hot and speedy. 
In the front group there are almost 55 riders, including Terpstra Boonen, Stannard, Sagan, Boom, Haussler, while Bodnar and Cancellara are in the second group and chasing, gap is still small and they are back quite soon
Now Ben Hermans (BMC) attacks. Marco Haller, Matthew Hayman, Jelle Wallays and Gruzdev try to join, succeed and a break-away forms while the peloton is splitting again by Katusha. Terpstra is not in the front. Luke Rowe needs to change his rear wheel but is quickly back. Theo Bos (MTN) crashed and quits the race. 
At the first intermediate sprint (km 87) Matthew Hayman is 1st, followed by Jelle Wallays and Dmitriy Gruzdev.  The peloton is 1'30 behind.
A group of about 30 riders including Lars Boom and Nacer Bouhanni joins the peloton at km 98 but there is a crash involving Dominique Rollin (Cofidis) and Leigh Howard (Orica), both back on bike but Howard abandons. The gap is up to 2'35. It's a battle out there. Ian Stannard (Sky) calls his car: he needs to change his rear wheel. It's quickly done and Stannard back in the peloton. The gap is down to 1'35 with 37 km to go. The wind has calmed down but not the peloton's nerves. In no time the gap is down to 35''.  They first pass on the finish line: a five riders break and a compact peloton furiously chasing.
At the second intermediate sprint (km 126) Hayman is 1st again, followed by Wallays and Gruzdev. Ettixx-OPQS pulls to close the gap
Embedded image permalinkFinally the streaming starts and we get the images of this brutal race: the small group in the wide desert, coloured points in a monotomous pale brown. The peloton plays the cat and the mouse. 15 km to go the break is over. Haussler and Rowe have been dropped, 15'' down. Where is Nikias Arndt? All back together.  BMC, Movistar and Tinkoff-Saxo pulling. Terpstra safely in front with almost all his mates. Astana shares the duty, Team Sky riders are scattered all over the peloton, now they try to gather to organise a train.
6 km to go Katusha splits again the peloton: 8 riders break-away, Bodnar included, as well as Boonen, Guarnieri, Paolini, Breschel, Kristoff, Sagan, Blythe...
Terpstra missed the split! Riders are bridging, Terpstra is back! 
Embedded image permalinkA big crash behind, a big sprint in front. Kristoff wins again, on Sagan and - it seems - Arndt.

Aleksander Kristoff:
“The team brought me to the line perfectly.
I wasn’t feeling great today and I was suffering. I didn’t think that I could win but at the end the team did a great leadout and they managed to take control even if we were lacking a few guys. I started in a perfect way but I knew that Sagan was looking fresh and on my wheel.
Today the team was strong at the end and guys in the pack were tired because of the hard pace. The team brought me perfectly and we believed we could win.”

Niki Terpstra:
"Once the group went away in the final kilometers I kept hoping that when it came to the sprint, people would start looking at each other, with Kittel in our group chasing. Luckily we chased them down in the last kilometer. With the crosswinds and the wide roads, it can be difficult. Some riders will fit into the move and some will not, and if you are not in the front group you are unlucky. But it worked out in the end for me. Now we have to see again tomorrow. For sure Kristoff will try to go for another stage and he is also 3rd in the GC, so it will be some hard work ahead of us with also intermediate sprints there for time bonuses. But I will do my best to try to win my second straight Gold jersey with the help of my teammates."

Nikias Arndt:
It was again not a normal race, from the beginning on it was hectic and splitting up. When it first split I missed the front group but I was never scared that we wouldn’t get back to the front. When it slowed we came back to the front group, and from there we were present and concentrated and had a second chance. We made a plan again for me for the sprint – it was a good plan but with around 7km to go Katusha split it again. There were about ten guys in front and we were in around 15th position. There I was a little scared but I thought if we go all out now we’ll blow up so we need to stay calm, see who will help up.
Ramon, Bert and Tom jumped here and did some big pulls to get us back to the first group. From here I was on my own and I don’t think I’ve ever had it like this, on my own in the sprint so it was a good experience. I picked my wheel but after the roundabout changed my mind as I saw he wasn’t that strong so I jumped and moved up to Sagan’s wheel.
I was following him in the sprint but running out of gears – it felt like I couldn’t get into the 11 but after the finish I saw that it was the 11 that I was sprinting in! I think it was again the maximum on the day. We’re happy with third but yeah if you go for a sprint then you want to win. We still have one day here, and it was a good race again from the team today so we will see what we can do tomorrow.”

Luke Rowe:
“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.” 

Philippe Gilbert:
"Happy this day is over! Big waats today in the first hour."

Team Qhubeka DS J.P Heynderickx:
“It was a bad day for us today and we are not happy with the result. Unluckily Theo Bos was involved in a crash just before the first sprint of the day. He hit the deck hard and had to be taken off to hospital. Hopefully there is nothing broken but we should hear from the doctors soon. In the end, today’s really tough stage came down to the last 5km where a small group split from the front of the race. Race leader Terpstra missed the front split of 10 riders and was in the 2nd chase group of 13 riders which also included Edvald. Katusha were driving really hard at the front but in the final kilometer the Edvald and Terpstra group made contact.”

MORE TO COME!

RESULTS.
STAGE
1. NOR KRISTOFF Alexander 61 TEAM KATUSHA 03h 03' 01''
2. SVK SAGAN Peter 21 TINKOFF-SAXO 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
3. GER ARNDT Nikias 12 TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
4. BEL BOONEN Tom 2 ETIXX-QUICK STEP 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
5. GBR BLYTHE Adam 131 ORICA GREENEDGE 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
6. AUS HAUSSLER Heinrich 151 IAM CYCLING 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
7. ESP ROJAS GIL José Joaquin 55 MOVISTAR TEAM 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
8. FRA  DEMARE Arnaud 111 FDJ 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
9. BELVAN AVERMAET Greg 46 BMC RACING TEAM 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
10. FRA BOUHANNI Nacer 71 COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
11. ITA MODOLO Sacha 145 LAMPRE - MERIDA 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
12. BEL STUYVEN Jasper 36 TREK FACTORY RACING 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
13. KAZ TLEUBAYEV Ruslan 97 ASTANA PRO TEAM 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
14. UKR GRIVKO Andriy 94 ASTANA PRO TEAM 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
15. POL BODNAR Maciej 22 TINKOFF-SAXO 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
16. NED TERPSTRA Niki 1 ETIXX-QUICK STEP 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
17. GBR STANNARD Ian 106 TEAM SKY 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
18. ITA RUFFONI Nicola 175 BARDIANI CSF 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
19. NOR BYSTRÖM Sven Erik 62 TEAM KATUSHA 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
20. GER KLUGE Roger 156 IAM CYCLING 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
21. BEL MAES Nikolas 4 ETIXX-QUICK STEP 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
22. GBR ROWE Luke 105 TEAM SKY 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
23. GER BURGHARDT Marcus 42 BMC RACING TEAM 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
24. AUS DOCKER Mitchell 132 ORICA GREENEDGE 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
25. BEL VAN KEIRSBULCK Guillaume 6 ETIXX-QUICK STEP 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
26. NOR BOASSON HAGEN Edvald 81 MTN-QHUBEKA 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
27. CRC AMADOR BIKKAZAKOVA Andrey 52 MOVISTAR TEAM 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
28. AUS DEMPSTER Zakkari 163 BORA-ARGON 18 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
29. BEL GILBERT Philippe 41 BMC RACING TEAM 03h 03' 01'' + 00' 00''
GC
1. NED TERPSTRA Niki 1 ETIXX-QUICK STEP 15h 12' 45''
2. POL BODNAR Maciej 22 TINKOFF-SAXO 15h 12' 51'' + 00' 06''
3. NOR KRISTOFF Alexander 61 TEAM KATUSHA 15h 12' 56'' + 00' 11''
4. GBR STANNARD Ian 106 TEAM SKY 15h 12' 57'' + 00' 12''
5. BEL VAN AVERMAET Greg 46 BMC RACING TEAM 15h 13' 04'' + 00' 19''
6. SVK SAGAN Peter 21 TINKOFF-SAXO 15h 13' 16'' + 00' 31''
7. GBR  ROWE Luke 105 TEAM SKY 15h 13' 18'' + 00' 33''
8. AUS HAUSSLER Heinrich 151 IAM CYCLING 15h 13' 24'' + 00' 39''
9. UKR GRIVKO Andriy 94 ASTANA PRO TEAM 15h 13' 26'' + 00' 41''
10. BEL BOONEN Tom 2 ETIXX-QUICK STEP 15h 13' 27'' + 00' 42''
JERSEYS
Gold: Terpstra
Silver: Kristoff
White: Sagan

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