No sooner has the inaugural Dubai Tour finished than the boys move to the next race in the Persian Gulf – The Tour of Qatar. Now in its 13th year, the race has grown in importance and, with its strong winds and sand strewn flat roads, has provided the ideal training ground for those aiming for glory in April’s cobbled Classics.
Tour of Qatar (9-14th February, 2014)
The 715km six-stage sprint-fest includes a short individual time-trial (10.9km) on the Lusail motor circuit but the remaining stages, on flat roads with stiff cross-winds, will provide plenty of opportunities for both Classics riders and sprinters. Stages two to Al Khor Corniche and five to Madinat al Shaminal are likely to be the most demanding but it’s highly probable that whoever wins stage three’s time-trial will claim the overall.
This will be Cannondale Pro Cycling’s second race in the Middle East, following the Dubai Tour, and will allow the team’s sprinter, Elia Viviani, to test himself against some of the world’s best sprinters before one of the most important events of his season, the Track World Championship in Calì (26th February - 2nd March). Elia’s looking forward to the opening stage:
I came back home from Australia with positive signals on my condition, and I look forward to competing strongly in Qatar. I’m confident that I will be able to fight with the best. Every day will be unpredictable.
People may think that a flat stage has no risks, but the wind and consequent fight to keep the head positions will make Tour of Qatar really tough to manage in the finale. Experience will be a key factor in getting the results I need. I know that my teammates will make me more confident.
Cannondale team for Qatar: Oscar Gatto (ITA), Michel Koch (GER), Kristijan Koren (SLV), Paolo Longo Borghini (ITA), Alan Marangoni (ITA), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Davide Villella (ITA) and Elia Viviani (ITA).
Links: Official race website