In His Own Words: Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage on Tour of Qatar Stage 5

Fri 8 Feb 2013

Aidis Kruopis sprinted onto the podium on the fifth stage of the Tour of Qatar. It is the second podium for Kruopis and his third top-ten over five days of racing. In his own words, Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage describes the day.

We started stage five with a similar plan to those we have had in the previous stages. We are riding for Aidis [Kruopis], and we hoped for a fast race from the start. High speeds early makes it easier to do a lead out in the finale as some riders are tired and there is less fighting at the front of the bunch.

Team Sky and BMC went on the attack today. They wanted to make the race harder for Omega Pharma-QuickStep. Because of this dynamic, there was never an early break. After nearly two hours of racing, three riders slipped away from the bunch, but they did not stay away very long.

It was obvious that we were going to end in a sprint, and the guys knew what they needed to do. There was a point two kilometres from the finish that was the perfect place to start the lead out, especially because of the wind direction. Before this place, Allan [Davis] went to the front to drive the pace. This has been his job the last two stages, and it has worked well.

When we hit the two kilometre mark, Brett [Lancaster] started the lead out at the right moment, but somehow the guys lost each other just before that point. When Brett began the lead out, only Baden [Cooke] and Kruopis were sitting behind him at the moment. We were missing the numbers we needed for a better place in the sprint.

Aidis crossed the line in third today. [Mark] Cavendish took win number three in Qatar and defended the leader’s jersey he earned yesterday. Yauheni Hutarovich (Ag2R La Mondiale) edged out Kruopis for second place.

Our sprint train two days ago was strong, and we have one more day to duplicate the lead out we did on Tuesday. Twice now, Aidis has been on the podium. We’ll try again tomorrow and see if we can finish even better.  

I know some of our fans were asking for updates on Fumy Beppu. He was involved in one of the pile-ups yesterday, but he’s okay. Both [Jens] Mouris and Cooke crashed yesterday, too. Their crash was after the race as they rode back by bike to the hotel. Luckily, none of the three had much damage to their body or their equipment.