Austrian riders Rene Haselbacher, Paco Wrolich (both Gerolsteiner) and Bernie Eisel (Française des Jeux)) have all announced on their websites that they will be riding the GP Doha and Tour of Qatar.
However, Haselbacher and Wrolich haven't had the best final preparation as they were both laid up over the weekend with an intestinal infection. "For 24 hours I felt really awful, but luckily then it was over," says Haselbacher, who will follow the mid-east races with the Tour of California Tour and then eventually Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan Remo.
Wrolich notes that he has only 800 km of riding in his legs so far, since he concentrated his off-season training in alternative sports such as cross-country and downhill skiing, and weight lifting. After the races in Qatar he will decide whether to ride the upcoming races in Portugal or to return to Mallorca for further training.
While both Hasi and Paco are planning to use the races in Qatar as training and preparation, FdJ's Bernie Eisel is planning to do more. "Because of Baden Cooke's departure, I am the only sprinter on the team this year," he said. "That mean that the sprints will be prepared for me at every opportunity. We will only have two experienced riders in Qatar and the rest are youngsters. I can't yet say how it will work out or how we will work together, but a top placement ought to be possible." Eisel's next races will be the GP Internacional and the Algarve-Tour in Portugal, leading up to the Classics season.