RadioShack Leopard prepare cobbled classics squad in wind-swept desert
RadioShack Leopard has compiled a likely cobbled-classics squad to contest the upcoming Tour of Qatar. The six day race, running from 3-8 February will mark the first official outing for the eight-man team including Stijn Devolder - making a return of sorts to the team formerly managed by Johan Bruyneel. Fabian Cancellara also opens his season in the Qatari desert and will use the tour to build his condition ahead of another spring classics campaign.
Cancellara finished seventh overall at the 2.HC race in 2012 and proved to be one of the strongest on a number of critical stages. The Swiss national time trial champion will have a more than capable squad for the 732.2km tour with most of them appropriate teammates for the two biggest cobbled classics; Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
The former winner at Flanders and Roubaix appears to be a strong contender for the overall victory at Qatar with a 14km time trial set to place. Cancellara should be in a strong position to eye the Qatar title however he will be given stiff competition from the in-form Sky Procycling's Geraint Thomas with Taylor Phinney (BMC) and a solid Omega Pharma - Quick-Step team also looking to upset his chances.
The RadioShack Leopard squad for Tour of Qatar: Fabian Cancellara (Swi), Stijn Devolder (Bel), Tony Gallopin (Fra), Markel Irizar (Spa), Nelson Oliveira (Por), Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr), Gregory Rast (Swi) and Hayden Roulston (NZl).