Gilbert has good sensations in Tour of Qatar

Belgian makes initial splits in strong crosswinds

Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) survived a tense opening stage at the Tour of Qatar, safely finishing in the lead group after the peloton split into several echelons in the finale. 

Stage 1 – 136 kilometres from Dukhan to Sealine Beach - was won by Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) with Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) and Arnaud Demare (FDJ) finishing second and third, respectively.

Gilbert, who only arrived at the race last night after competing at the Dubai Tour, finished 32nd on the stage and remains in the hunt for the overall.

The Belgian told the press that the conditions on the stage allowed him to ease himself into the race. The first two hours were raced into an almost direct headwind, with the peloton averaging just 30 kilometres an hour.

“I was happy in the beginning of the race, because with that headwind, there were not a lot of attacks and I could get my legs, after the Dubai Tour as I was tired."

Once Gilbert found his racing legs he was able to make several splits in the peloton as crosswinds buffered the course.

“After the first phase of the stage, I was in a good group but I was disappointed when the bunch came back together again. I had good sensations all day but in the end, I could see that there was too many sprinters, so I just decided to follow, and not try and attack.”

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