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Strong Second Place for Aidis Kruopis on Tour of Qatar Stage Five

Thu 13 Feb 2014

Aidis Kruopis sprinted to second place in Madinat Al Shamal on the fifth stage of the Tour of Qatar. André Greipel (Lotto Belisol), who missed out yesterday to Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) by millimetres, took the stage victory. Théo Bos (Belkin) rounded out the podium.

Kruopis benefited from the strong lead-out performed by his ORICA-GreenEDGE teammates, who could be seen massed on the front during the final 20 kilometres. With the sprint impending, Kruopis managed to push his way ahead of Greipel and behind Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol) in the final run in towards the line.

When Greipel opened his sprint, Kruopis cunningly hopped on his wheel. Although Kruopis attempted a second kick to come around Greipel, his efforts were for naught, as the German powered across the line by several bike lengths. Kruopis also opened up a gap to those in his wake.

A slight sense of calm was injected into the day as a stiff headwind discouraged attacks and efforts to split the field. Omega Pharma – Quick-Step gave the nod to a four-man move that featured Stijn Devolder (Trek Factory Racing), Daniel Schorn (NetApp-Endura), Patrick Gretsch (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha). The quartet built up a maximum advantage of seven minutes before Lotto Belisol, sensing Omega Pharma-Quick-Step’s disinterest in chasing, began to shut down the move. 

ORICA-GreenEDGE joined forces with the Belgian outfit. Together, they pulled back the breakaway to slightly more than three minutes as they hit the finishing circuits at Madinat Al Shamal. Seven kilometres from the finish, it was game over.

As the kilometres ticked down, NetApp-Endura and Cannondale rubbed shoulders with Lotto Belisol, Omega Pharma – Quick-Step and ORICA-GreenEDGE whilst the trains began to take shape. Inside the final kilometre, Kruopis hopped from his train into the Lotto Belisol train and prepared to unfurl his sprint. He kept a watchful on Greipel and was the only rider able to respond when the German unleashed his powerful acceleration.

Comments from Laurenzo Lapage on stage five:

There was a strong wind again today, but the direction it took couldn’t make the splits. The boys had to wait until the last 20 kilometres or so to bring Aidis into a good position. They did their job well.

In this race, it’s better to take initiative than wait for the others. This is why we chose to get involved with the chase work. We don’t race with radios here in Qatar, so Mat Hayman is playing an important role as captain on the road and making decisions with the boys.

It was great work by the team during the race. I was happy to see them all working well with each other. The only mistake they made was that they came up too early to the front. We’ll watch the sprint many times tonight, and we’ll discuss what was good and what needs to be better for next time. We have one more chance. We’ll give it another big try. 

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