ORICA-GreenEDGE To Target Stage Wins at Tour of QatarFri 1 Feb 2013
The Tour of Qatar has become an important early season race for teams looking to target a strong showing in the Classics. With warm weather, luxurious accommodations and increasingly stiff competition, the six day stage race offers teams the perfect opportunity to ease into the international season.
“The Tours of Qatar and Oman have become key races for riders to use as preparation for goals they’ve set later in the year,” said Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage. “There are many reasons why these races have grown in popularity. The weather is always good. The hotels are fantastic. The riders don’t have to deal with daily transfers. The time difference to Europe is small, so most riders have no jet lag. The distances from the stage finishes to the hotel often allows us to do extra training after the race. We’re happy to race here again this year.”
In the team’s maiden season, Aidis Kruopis finished third on stage three and Allan Davis finished in the top ten on the last two stages. Kruopis’ consistency afforded him a place in the top ten overall. He slotted into ninth on the general classification after six days of racing. Both Kruopis and Davis return to Qatar this year with an eye on the sprints.
“We are looking for a stage win and targeting a good result overall,” said Lapage. “If you look at our results from last year, I think this is a reasonable objective.”
Lapage is quick to note that with several of his riders making their season debut in Qatar, he is unwilling to identify roles for each of his riders or highlight certain stages as the team’s focus.
“It is the first race of the season for a few of our riders, so it’s too difficult to identify their roles in the race at this point,” Lapage said. “I expect their roles to change from day to day as we see the difference in fitness levels.”
In addition to targeting stage results and the overall classification, Lapage believes a strong showing in Qatar is about much more than results.
“It’s always important to start the season well,” he explained. “Mentally, it makes the first half of the season a lot easier if the a rider returns from the first race and feel confident that race fitness is where it should be. Good results can be the proof a rider needs to feel like he did the right kind of work in the winter. When the base is there and the first race goes well, there’s a sense of relief and relaxation heading into the next race.”
ORICA-GreenEDGE for Tour of Qatar