Unlucky Day in the Qatari Desert

Mon 10 Feb 2014

Aidis Kruopis flatted out of contention of the front group on the second stage of the Tour of Qatar. The only ORICA-GreenEDGE rider to make the reduced bunch that formed in the crosswinds, Kruopis was unable to contest the sprint won by Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step). Mat Hayman was the top finisher for ORICA-GreenEDGE in 31st place at 48”.

Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) retained the gold leader’s jersey at the end of the stressful stage. Jurgen Roelands (Lotto Belisol) took back a handful of seconds on Terpstra via intermediate sprints, reducing Terpstra’s advantage to 5”. Boonen leapt up to third overall at 14”.

The rapid start to the day at the Camel Race Track gave a preview to the carnage that would follow. Omega Pharma-Quick-Step and Tinkoff-Saxo combined forces to set an relentless tempo that didn’t allow the early break to from. Twenty five kilometres from the start Philippe Gilbert (BMC) slipped off the front with Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthCare). The duo never extended their advantage beyond a minute, and the move proved short-lived.

The pace remained high until the race hit the cross-winds when Omega Pharma-Quick-Step sent the race into the gutter and shattered the peloton. A crash just prior to the split sent riders tumbling to the ground and proved decisive in the shaping the make-up of the groups that would eventually from.

Kruopis made the cut as Jens Mouris and Svein Tuft got caught up in the crash and several others from the Australian outfit were stuck behind the fallen riders. While things looked good for the Lithuanian initially, the late race mechanical dashed his hopes for a result.

Comments from Laurenzo Lapage on stage two:

It was a windy, stressful stage yet again. All the riders in the bunch were nervous from the start. It was not possible for the early breaks to do anything because the speed in the bunch was too high.

Big splits in the bunch happened when we made a right-hand turn into the headwind at 110 kilometres. Unluckily, we were caught out because of a massive crash just before the split. Mouris and Tuft were involved. Kruopis made the first group. Jens Keukeleire and Mat Hayman found themselves in the second group. Because of the crash, the other guys were in the different group behind. In addition to  the crashes, we had eight flat tyres today and against that bad luck, it’s not easy to fight back in Qatar.

When we got the names from the first group, it looked good for us because Aidis was the only real sprinter in there with Boonen. Boonen was the wheel to look for in the finish.

Aidis said he felt really well in the final, but after his flat, he could not come back to the group. The most important thing for Aidis is to recover well for tomorrow. He will go for the sprint again in the other stages because his condition is good. 

We’ve now lost the chance to go for a great result overall with Jens Mouris. We lost the chance yesterday for Svein Tuft and Michael Hepburn. They will still look for a good result, but the time trial is still one we have earmarked for those guys.