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6th Tour of Qatar Cycling Race
 
By Podofdonny
Date: 1/27/2007
6th Tour of Qatar Cycling Race
 

A 6 kilometre team time trial to warm the legs up and then the sprinters should take over. Boonen, Petacchi, Chicchi, Eisel, Brown, Steels and Ventoso will all fancy the title of the fastest man in Arabia …

Tour of Qatar – courtesy ASO

Preview

The sixth Tour of Qatar, which will take place from the 28th January to the 2nd February 2007, will begin with an innovation. The first stage, a team time trial of six kilometres in Doha, promises to be an intense induction session for the champions who have chosen the Qatar as their first race of the cycling season. Over the next five days, the going will be tough. On the flat and straight routes of Qatar, team tactics will already be in operation. If he is true to his traditional start of season, Tom Boonen, perhaps accompanied by his new power rider Gert Steegmans, could embark upon a new series of victories. But there is also every chance that the Belgian former world champion will face fierce opposition from the Italian rider Alessandro Petacchi, eager to test his finish in the Middle East after a season disrupted by injuries in 2006.

A starting block to the cycling season for some, the Tour of Qatar represents for others one of the landmark events of the year. Hence the Iranian cyclists, who hold the first three places in the Asia Tour continental ranking, are invited to form a team to challenge Europe’s elite. Similarly, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates will make up a mixed team determined to follow the pace set by the top professionals.

Unlike the earlier years, the sweltering desert heat won’t be much of a worry for the cyclists. More than anything, it will be the cold and gusty winds that the riders will have to contend with.

The Course

Stage 1, Sunday 28th January: Corniche Doha (team time trial, 6 km)
Stage 2, Monday 29th January: Al Wakra Qatar Olympic Committee (135,5 km)
Stage 3, Tuesday 30th January: Dohat Salwa Khalifa Stadium (140 km)
Stage 4, Wednesday 31st January: Camel Race Track Doha Golf Club (139,5 km)
Stage 5, Thursday 1st February: Al Zubarah Mesaieed (160,5 km)
Stage 6, Friday 2nd February: Sealine Beach Resort Doha Corniche (134 km)

Tour of Qatar – courtesy ASO

The Contenders

DEFENDING champion Tom Boonen normally enjoys his Arabian adventures and last year saw him make an impressive start in Doha .Along with five stage victories he went on to pocket the overall title.

However, this time round it will be interesting to see if Boonen and his teammates are in the right frame of mind for a repeat of that performance.

It has been a difficult time for the Quick Step team coming into the Tour. Just a week ago their manager Patrick Lefevere was brought under the microscope by Belgium newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws for his alleged involvement in doping. Lefevere was accussed of organised doping, which cannot be good for tem morale.

The 26 year old has spent this week trying to come to terms with the headlines "It's not easy to think about competition in such circumstances," admitted Boonen.

Boonen, riding for Quick Step will be facing a stiff competition from the 33-year-old sprint sensation Alessandro Petacchi Milram team. Petacchi, had very little to show in the 2006 season which was marred by injury. He was out of action for four months following a knee injury which occurred during the Tour of Italy.

"I'm back and in top form. I hope this year will be as successful for me as 2005," said the Italian.

New bikes (Cannondale) and stripy new kit, Liquigas send a tough looking team which is looking for early season success.

Francesco Chicchi and Murilo Fischer will be the fast men at the front of the green machine who also choose: Patrick Calcagni, Mauro Da Dalto, Francesco Failli, Aliaksandr Kuschynski, Roberto Petito and Frederik Willems.

Tour of Qatar – courtesy ASO

T Mobile are confident of a good early season start."The team has put in the work in training, and now it is about time the racing got started," says T-Mobile sporting manager Tristan Hoffman, ahead of his first race assignment with his new team.

Magenta debutant Servais Knaven will act as captain in the Persian Gulf State. As Hoffman’s extended arm in the bunch, the 35-year old Dutch veteran will execute the team tactics on the road. "Knaven is the 'Boss',” says sporting director Rolf Aldag,

T-Mobile is taking a team strong on sprint talent to the season opener, with Aldag expecting a flying start from Bernhard Eisel in particular. The fresh recruit from FdJeux 'is our main man for the sprint finishes’ says Aldag. Last year, the Austrian was the only rider with the top-end speed to come between Tom Boonen and a clean sweep of stage wins in Qatar.

Greg Henderson, another team newcomer, will be Eisel's principal lead-out man. The Kiwi sprinter is in sharp form, after some recent appearances on the track. "Depending on the race situation we may also ride for Greg." says Hoffman, who sees Eric Baumann and the vastly experienced Andreas Klier as the other key riders in the Magenta sprint train.

Rounding out the eight-man squad are Classics' specialist Mercus Burghardt, Luxembourg champion Kim Kirchen and Bert Grabsch, one of four riders making their Magenta debuts in the Persian Gulf this weekend.

Aldag is particularly looking forward to the team time trial opener: “This group won our intra-team time trial race in Mallorca - so it should be an interesting opening day.”

T Mobile Team;n Eric Baumann (26/Germany), Marcus Burghardt (23/Germany), Bernhard Eisel (25/Austria), Bert Grabsch (31/Germany), Greg Henderson (30/New Zealand), Kim Kirchen (28/Luxembourg), Andreas Klier (31/Germany), Servais Knaven (35/Netherlands).

Tour of Qatar – courtesy ASO


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