The Tour of Qatar. On the surface, it's a nice, warm early season race on flat roads with relatively short stages. It is a perfect way to tune up for the Spring Classics, to get some speed in the legs, to get in the rhythm of racing. Peek behind the curtain, as Cyclingnews photographer Jonathan Devich has done, and a different story emerges.
Behind the Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Sky and Lotto-Belisol trains amassing at the front, there are the unfortunates: the rookie riders, those who might be unfamiliar with the furious pace of cross-wind racing, riders who are trying to find form after illness or injury or foul-weather winters. Get too far back from the streamlined front of the peloton and the washing machine of the mid-pack chaos can chew a rider up and spit him out, on the ground - hard.
All of this takes place in front of a society that is familiar with the race, but still not quite buying into it en masse. The result is miles and miles of endless highway, peppered only by rocks and sand dunes until the race hurtles back toward the gleaming, mirrored glass of the big city.