By Shane Stokes in Doha, Qatar
Chris Sutton (Team Slipstream) was one of the six breakaway riders beaten by Tom Boonen at the end of the 137.5 kilometre second stage of the Tour of Qatar but, rather than being disheartened, he came away from the race relatively confident that he can land some glory later in the week. Sutton was fourth on the leg from Al Zubarah to the Doha Golf Club and said that it was a very difficult day in the saddle.
"It was pretty hard out there," the young Australian stated. "I just checked my PowerTap and I averaged 55 km/h. It was a solid day. I had a maximum speed of 71.5 km/h and there's no downhills here! It was just flat and windy.
"It wasn't an easy day for anyone," he added. "The boys in my team rode really great. Dave Millar and Julian Dean helped and then I ended up in the front group with Magnus."
After the team time trial Millar, Dean and directeur sportif Johnny Weltz all tipped Sutton for a strong ride in the race. Each said that he was in good shape, and so it turned out.
"I tried to have a go in the sprint there at the finish but Tom Boonen is pretty strong and I ended up running fourth," he said. "The whole team rode very well today, Maggie was driving it at the finish but I guess he ran out of a bit of gas at the very end."
'CJ' Sutton had started the day in the jersey of best young rider, but Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto) nipped past him due to time bonuses received for his second place on the stage. He wants the jersey back, as well as aiming for another target.
"As regards the rest of the week, it's important to stay at the front because you don't know what is going to happen with the winds and all that," he explained. "I wouldn't mind trying to get the young rider's jersey back, I think I am just a couple of seconds behind the guy from Lotto so I will be watching him. I wouldn't mind trying to win a sprint, either! I was close today with Boonen so I will try to get up there and win a sprint.
"We will see," he continued. "There is no pressure on us or anything, we are just still trying to work out how we all ride. We all click together really well but we will work on the sprint finish, we will get it right and I reckon we could have a win before the end of the week."