Tour of Qatar

Arriving in Qatar I was expecting warm and humid conditions, but was a little relieved when I saw the forecast for our week of racing confirmed temperatures in the mid-20’s - a comfortable racing temperature indeed!

Away from residential and developed sceneries, the Qatar landscape is quite bare with desert occupying the majority of the view. Doha, the capital city of Qatar, does however boast impressive structures, with high-rise towers situated right on the Persian Gulf, it’s a magnificent sight to see.

The race hotel, The St Regis, was only a few kilometers away from the city and this offered us a very nice view from our rooms!

With 9 World Tour Teams and 9 Professional-Continental Teams competing, the experience gained from every stage was without a doubt, very valuable.

Four road stages and one individual time trial completed the five-stage tour, with the longest day 190kms in length.

A highlight of the week was racing on the 2016 Road World Championships circuit, to be used later in the year. It’s a technical course, with twisting roads and is similar to that of a kermesse or criterium circuit.

The finish came down to a sprint that day, but a massive crash ruined our chances with my front wheel being completed taken out (I managed to hold it relatively upright though), and Graeme Brown  joining another six riders to hit the deck. Brownie and I were fine, but it was another good opportunity missed.  

Our best result came from teammate Jordan Kerby, placing a respectable 8th in the time-trial, a fantastic ride over the 11km circuit. 

We showed improvement throughout the stages, battling in the third and fourth groups on the road in the very first stage, to mixing it with leaders in the first and second groups on the last two stages.

Riding the cross-winds is a skill in-itself to master, but racing the cross-winds against the big name world tour teams who’re amongst the 135 rider peloton is on a totally new level!

They too want to be where you want to be, so to avoid the crashes, stay focused and alert whilst applying the physical strength to maintain position all at the same time, requires a lot of experience and some good luck on the side.

For my first time, I showed improvement in positioning, the key to making the front split everyday, but I couldn’t quite grasp a result, something I’d aimed for leading in.

On the final stage, the final circuit provided an opportunity with a bunch sprint. The team supported me in position at various times and sacrificed themselves to get me up there. The wide road and evenly matched field saw positioning become a challenge, with teams spread across the width of the road, travelling full-speed to the final U-turn with 1400m to go.

In the end, I was too far back and despite the efforts from my last man Graeme Brown, making a late run to improve our position, I followed wheels to the line giving what I had in the fast cross-tail finishing straight.

Thanks to all our staff on tour, making our jobs a little easier over the five days/700km’s covered, ensuring our equipment and physical health was always working perfectly.

Sometimes you win, other times you learn and I learnt a lot this week in my first Tour of Qatar, fueling even more hunger to capitalise on my opportunities at my next race, Tour de Langkawi.

It will be another quality event, with a handful of world tour teams, but with an experienced team, led by former stage winner and team captain on the road Graeme Brown, I’m sure we’ll pose a real threat in the finishes.

I race well in Asia, let’s hope that continues next week when we begin stage one.


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