Sagan comes up short in Tour of Qatar
Tinkoff-Saxo’s Peter Sagan did not get the overall or stage win he was hoping for at this year’s Tour of Qatar. The Slovakian sprinter wrapped up the six-day race on Friday by placing sixth overall and winning the white jersey of the best young rider. During the week he sprinted to a pair of second places and several fourths.
“Overall I’m happy with the result,” said director Tristan Hoffman. “Of course we would like to have won the race and a stage win, but we did what we could. The overall GC and the stages, where Sagan came in second, were decided by really small margins. But we also have to give credit to Terpstra, who won overall. He was strong and a tough adversary during the race.”
“I’ve seen some very promising signs ahead of the big races of the season. We were close to the yellow jersey on stage 5 after great teamwork in the crosswind and today we saw a very good lead-out for Sagan. We take that with us and hopefully we can benefit from it already at Tour of Oman next week.”
The team’s Polish rider Maciej Bodnar finished in second overall, six seconds behind winner Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep). Sagan believes his teammate could have won if they had handled stage 5 a little differently when strong crosswinds caused the peloton to split.
“It was my first race for my team Tinkoff-Saxo and I’m very happy with how the race went – except for my crash on stage 1 of course. I think it’s a good start to the season for me and also for the team in general. We are all very happy for the result Bodnar achieved,” Sagan said.
“Actually I’m convinced that we could have won the GC with Bodnar. It was our fault that we didn’t put the hammer down in the final kilometers of stage 5. But we have many important races to come, so I see this is a good start with some promising signs.”
Reguigui sprints to 5th place in Doha
MTN-Qhubeka’s Youcef Reguigui sprinted to a fifth place during stage 6 that ended the Tour of Qatar on Friday in Doha. The Algerian rider benefitted from his teammates who kept him fresh enough throughout the 124.5km race to be able to mix it up in the final sprint.
It was the highest place during a stage for the team this week. Edvald Boasson Hagen had placed eighth during the stage 3 time trial and Reguigui was 12th in the stage 1 sprint.
"Today was a super hard day, it was only 115km but it was fast,” Reguigui said. “I am really happy with the team, they supported me all stage and kept me at the front of the bunch. I always had a teammate beside me the whole stage. In the last lap I was with Jaco [Venter], Gerald [Ciolek], Edvald and Kristian [Sbaragli] after Johann [Van Zyl] did some good work. So the whole team was there and that was why I could be in front.
“In the last kilometer we came from the back to the front at high speed. I just followed our wheels until I got to the wheels of [Peter] Sagan and [Nacer] Bouhanni. I started sprinting at 400m to keep on the wheels but if I waited until 200m I could have finished on the podium. It's okay though, I am happy about the team. Everybody rode together and we had a good understanding. If we continue to work like this MTN-Qhubeka can win some big races."
Lampre-Merida look to Oman after disappointing Tour of Qatar
Lampre-Merida is refocussing on the upcoming Tour of Oman (February 17-22) after a disappointing week at the Tour of Qatar. Despite their best efforts, Sacha Modolo was the highest placed rider in any of the sprints, with a 10th place during stage 4.
"Our target was to be regularly in the top part of the stages standing, but we did not achieve this goal because, despite our riders demonstrated stage after stage that they could race as a very united team, we faced difficulties in the approach to the final part of the courses. The athletes gave their best, but we can of course do better,” said the team’s director Philippe Mauduit.
The team headed to the Tour of Oman include Modolo, Rui Costa, Rafael Valls, Filippo Pozzato, Matteo Bono, Roberto Ferrari, Nelson Oliveira, Ruben Plaza Molina.