Race organisers ASO have confirmed the route of the 2015 Tour of Qatar, which is due to begin on February 8. The Middle Eastern race is a chance for the sprinters to get in some early victories but the crosswinds that often wreak havoc on the bunch present an opportunist with a shot at success. Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep) took advantage of the winds last year to win the opening stage and go on to take the overall classification.
The 2015 race will begin in Dukhan, near where Terpstra took his win in 2014, and head 136 kilometres southwest to Sealine Beach. The 194.5km stage 2 from Al Wakra to Al Khor Corniche is the longest of the six that make up the Tour of Qatar. As it was in last year’s race, the only non-sprinter stage will be a short 10.9km time trial around the planned city Lusail. It is the third time that the city has hosted the key time trial, which is likely to be definitive in the general classification.
The peloton will head back north for the start of stage 4 from Al Thakhira to Mesaieed, which has featured five times previously as a stage finish. Stage 5 will take the riders from Al Zubara Fort to Madinat ash-Shamal. After hosting the first sprint, the Sealine Beach Resort will feature the start of the final day’s racing before the riders make their way to the traditional finish in Doha.
Defending champion Terpstra will be back with his teammate, and former winner, Tom Boonen. Heading up the sprint competition will be Marcel Kittel, Alexander Kristoff, Peter Sagan and Australian national champion Heinrich Haussler. Bradley Wiggins will make the trip to Qatar as part of his Paris-Roubaix build-up, along with the likes of Alejandro Valverde and Philippe Gilbert.
The Tour of Qatar runs from Sunday, February 8, to Friday, February 13.
Tour of Qatar stages
Stage 1: Sunday, February 8, Dukhan – Sealine Beach (136 km)
Stage 2: Monday, February 9, Al Wakra – Al Khor Corniche (194.5 km)
Stage 3: Tuesday, February 10, Lusail Circuit, individual time trial (10.9 km)
Stage 4: Wednesday, February 11, Al Thakhira - Mesaieed (165.5 km)
Stage 5: Thursday, February 12, Al Zubara Fort – Madinat ash-Shamal (153 km)
Stage 6: Friday, February 13, Sealine Beach Resort – Doha Corniche(124.5 km)