Q&A With Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage to Preview Tour of Qatar

Sat 8 Feb 2014

ORICA-GreenEDGE fields a versatile squad for the 13th edition of the Tour of Qatar. The six day tour in the Middle East has become a staple amongst the early season race offerings, appealing to the sprinters who will dominate on the pan flat, wind-swept roads. An individual time trial on stage three will offer the chrono specialists the only opportunity to wrestle overall glory from the fast finishers.

Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage will again head up the team’s Middle Eastern campaign, directing at both Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman. Below, he answers a selection of questions about the Australian outfit’s line-up and race ambitions.

Q: We’re bringing a strong, versatile squad. What sort of roles do you see for the various riders during the Tour of Qatar?

Brett Lancaster is the only rider in Qatar who hasn’t raced yet. He will be important in the sprint train to deliver the guys in good position. He will be used in a support role throughout the week.

Svein Tuft, Michael Hepburn and Jens Mouris are our three riders who can do a good time trial. We hope to arrive with those three in a good position overall at the start of the individual time trial on stage three.

Jens Keukeleire will more or less have the same role as Brett Lancaster. He can do a good sprint on his own but will work for his teammates in Qatar.

Aidis Kruopis and Leigh Howard are our two riders for the sprint with Leigh more likely to be the last lead-out man for Aidis than the other way around.

Mathew Hayman is the team captain on the road. He will give the team direction. This is especially important without race radio.

Q: What are the team’s main objectives for Tour of Qatar?

We want to go for a stage win. Whoever does a good time trial will have the support from the team to chase a good overall result.

Q: What are the defining characteristics of the race?

The stages are short and nervous from the start. The roads are long, straight open and windy. Each small change of wind direction (usually happens when we turn) can change the race situation in a second.

Q: The women’s race had four flat road stages. The men’s race has similar style road stages (five) plus a time trial. How do you expect the addition of the time trial to impact the race?

In my opinion, the time trial will decide the overall winner. That’s why it’s important for us to have riders that are strong in the time trial part of our line-up.

Q: Many teams race the same or a similar line-up for Qatar and Oman, as we have done in the past. This year, we don’t have much overlap between our Qatar squad and our Oman squad. Why is that?

Qatar and Oman are two completely difference races, and that’s why we change over some riders. Also, some of the riders have already done a hard stage race with Down Under, and we don’t want to do an overloaded program so early in the season. 

ORICA-GreenEDGE for Tour of Qatar:

Aidis Kruopis
Brent Lancaster
Jens Keukeleire
Jens Mouris
Leigh Howard
Mathew Hayman
Michael Hepburn 
Svein Tuft