By Gregor Brown in Doha, Qatar
Australian Dean Windsor is learning European style of racing on the windy and sandy roads of Qatar. The 22-year-old is part of the Team Drapac Porsche up against cycling's big names – like Tom Boonen and Filippo Pozzato – for the Tour of Qatar, February 1 to 6.
"The more you race against them the more you learn," Windsor said to Cyclingnews. "The way the attacks go, the way you can move up the bunch, the way the bunch moves... Everything like that is a bigger challenge for us than what it is for the European riders."
Windsor specialises in sprints and finds some of the world's best in Qatar. He came to the Tour of Qatar for the second time in his career with the Australian team. He has competed with the same team in Belgium, the Tour of Austria and the Brixia Tour.
Drapac struggles against their more experienced competitors in Qatar. It finished 13th in the opening team time trial and has placed its men in key race escape groups. Windsor's teammate Rhys Pollock took part in the seven-man move on Wednesday.
"It is so hard to make a sprint here; there is never a standard, typical sprint. It is usually all of the riders in the gutter with the section being made. ... We are sort of fighting for survival out there."
Windsor did not start the final stage on Friday, due to an achilles problem. The Tour of Qatar is in its eighth year. The same organiser as the Tour de France, the Amaury Sport Organisation, runs it. Belgian Tom Boonen is the current general classification leader.