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Tallingii the all-rounder

Maarten Tjallingii from the Chinese-registered Marco Polo Cycling Team has had an excellent start to the season in the Tour of Qatar. The 27-year old Dutchman with little experience in professional stage races proved to be one of the strongest riders in the star-studded race, finishing fifth behind three CSC riders and Tom Boonen.

"A dream that comes true," said Tjalllingii. "In the second stage I went in the long break, like I planned before leaving for Qatar. This was after my teammate Kenji Leung did a great solo on stage 1, so the Marco Polo team spirit was high. After that stage I was suddenly high up in GC and I wanted to defend my spot. When CSC broke up the field in stage 3, I had no problems getting in that echelon (17 riders broke away, all known top-riders and Tjallingii). I had to jump a few times, but made every break. Too bad I missed the seven guys that broke away in the final. In the fourth stage I was alright and kept a bit more quiet."

Tjallingii's preparation wasn't aimed at this race. "Less then two months ago I was still on a holiday in Africa, then I started training because I wanted to see what I can do in cyclo-cross," he said. "I finished fifth in the Dutch national championships."

A past winner of the Tour du Faso, Tjallingii is also ranked 26th in the world for cross country mountain biking, proving that he is indeed an all-rounder.

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