By Susan Westemeyer
Gerolsteiner's Robert Förster has ridden in the Tour of Qatar before and knows what the wind does to the race. Every year there has been at least one stage where the wind has ripped the peloton apart and forced him in to one of the chasing groups. This year, he swore, things would be different, as he noted on his website, robert-foerster.de.
Almost immediately after the start, the field broke apart, but with Frösi in the first group. "After 5 km about 10 riders had to fall out of the group, including Petacchi and me. That's OK, I thought, the second group is OK for this early in the race. So we rode about 65 km/hour, with a pulse of 185, and were always 30 seconds behind the leading group." By kilometre 45, he was feeling the effects of his efforts, deciding it might be better to not take each of his required turns riding in the wind, "because by pulse measure was showing utopian figures and my legs were begging for relief."
"Hey, I yelled to the Belgian Eckhaut, he should pull in front of me. I won't tell you what I said next, because Eckhaut let the others pull away and then the two of us stood alone in the middle of the desert. We joined the next group that came by, but eventually everybody lost all the morale and strength, and we arrived in Doha about an hour down."
His teammate Sven Krauss took advantage of the uncomfortable circumstances to share his knowledge and experience with those who needed it; even if that's not what he really wanted to do. From the start the race went haywire. "I didn't want to take any risks and held myself back out of the wildness, in the hope that nothing would happen. That was my first and last mistake today," he wrote on his website, sven-krauss.com. He found himself all the way at the end of the field, which by then had broken up into many small groups.
"I was with 12 Qataris and Iranians. That's what we call 1.) embarrassing, and 2.) development help; because they had no idea of how to ride together in the wind." His lessons were successful. "After I had taught my guys that I wouldn't allow them to all ride behind me the whole way, our group started to ride well together. So well, in fact, that we caught up with the group ahead of us and all arrived together at the finish."