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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Wednesday, February 11, 2015

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Tour of Qatar Stage Four

I got this report on the Tour of Qatar from Tinkoff-Saxo:

A mere wheel-length separated Tinkoff-Saxo and Peter Sagan from the win on stage 4 of Tour of Qatar. The Slovak champion and team captain broke out of the slipstream of his rivals in the final sprint and surged for the line but missed less than a half meter to Alexander Kristoff, who took his second stage win. Second in the GC, Maciej Bodnar, gained vital time on race leader Niki Terpstra.

In the wake of the stage, Tristan Hoffman, Sport Director at Tinkoff-Saxo, was pleased with the result and seconds gained.

Alexander Kristoff just beats Peter Sagan in stage four of the Tour of Qatar

Alexander Kristoff just beats Peter Sagan. Tinkoff-Saxo photo

“It was a great day. Of course, it would have been even better if Bodnar had taken seven additional seconds and if Sagan had finished 50cm further ahead. But we can only be satisfied. Peter showed that he has the speed and Bodnar took 5 seconds, which gives us confidence in the all-important stage tomorrow”, says Tristan Hoffman.

Maciej Bodnar finished on the right side of a split in the speeding peloton that occurred during the last kilometer. The 5 seconds gained could come in handy already at tomorrow’s stage, according to Bodnar, who is looking for early success in his first race for Tinkoff-Saxo.

“We fought hard in the finale to position ourselves in the peloton and I was able to gain 5 seconds in a race that will be decided by small time differences. So our effort was really worthwhile, as we distanced ourselves from Astana and got closer to Terpstra. There have been splits in the peloton on all stages, so we knew that we had to stay focused – especially in the last tricky part. Tomorrow will be the most important day of the entire race and we have to grasp the opportunities that arise”, comments Maciej Bodnar.

The 165,5km stage 4 from Al Thakhira to Mesaieed was once again carried out on long, exposed roads with crosswinds on the first part of the stage. A three-man breakaway was established during the opening kilometers but stood little chance against the peloton led by the sprinter’s teams.

Leaving the wide and straight roads of the desert, the peloton entered into the absolute finale at high speed on tricky roads with especially roundabouts stretching out the peloton. In the final sprint it was Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), who timed his burst for the line ideally with Peter Sagan coming in at second and Nikias Arndt in third place. Tristan Hoffman explains about the last part of the stage:

“After a long stretch with headwind, we entered the main key point of the stage with 6km to go. We had 7 roundabouts before the sprint, so it was all-important to be positioned in the front of the bunch. Our boys did great and decided to take to the front at the right moment. If you move up too early, you’ll just get squeezed in again in a sprint like this. We look forward to tomorrow and hope to gain the last marginal there”.

Stage 5 in Qatar is the penultimate stage and will challenge the riders with 153 kilometers. Heavy winds are once again expected to affect the stage.

Lotto-Jumbo Plans for the Vuelta a Andalucia

And this came in from Lotto-Jumbo:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo will travel to Spain for the 60th Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol with confidence high. The 2015 season will start for most riders, but Sports Director Merijn Zeeman still hopes for success like last year, when Moreno Hofland won a stage.

Moreno Hofland

Moreno Hofland riding the 2014 Tour of Romandie prologue

“All of our riders, except for Maarten Tjallingii who was in the Tour Down Under, will ride their first race kilometres in Ruta,” said Zeeman. “We’ve worked hard this winter. We had few setbacks during our training camps, but made good progress. We are all eager to make it a good race.”

Hofland, 23, began his season in 2014 with a victory in the final stage of the Ruta del Sol.

“It was my first victory in Europe, a very important one,” said the Dutchman. After his Ruta del Sol win, he continued his development with a stage win in the highly regarded WorldTour stage race, Paris-Nice

“I have had a good winter so far,” Hofland said. “I cannot wait to start racing again. After my stage win in last year’s Ruta del Sol, expectations will be high. I hope to get in the mix straight away in order to work my way to top form for Paris-Nice and the classics.”

“We aim for a sprint win with Moreno again. We want to take him to the top,” said Zeeman. “As a team, we’ll work hard to support him as much as we can. He’s already shown what he can do in Paris-Nice. Now we want to help him make the next step.

Wilco Kelderman prepared himself for Paris-Nico at altitude in Tenerife together with Tom Leezer. The 23-year-old Dutchman aims for a good time trial and overall in the Ruta del Sol. “The third and fourth days, with tough uphill finishes, are going to be important for him,” said Zeeman.

Steven Kruijswijk, 27, will have a free role, said Zeeman. “The Giro d’Italia is his big goal this year, but he already feels strong and is full of confidence for the Ruta. He’ll have space to ride for the GC and to test himself on the climbs.” Zeeman knows that his team will face a big challenge from February 18 to 22. “There will be a lot of top and there are going to be fireworks. We want our riders to move to the top, so the Ruta del Sol is a good opportunity to see where we stand.

Team line-up:
Laurens ten Dam, Jos van Emden, Moreno Hofland, Wilco Kelderman, Steven Kruijswijk, Tom Leezer en Maarten Tjallingii.

Sports Director: Merijn Zeeman

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