Deserts winds played their part in shaping the action during stage five of the 2015 Tour of Qatar. Photos by Graham Watson

Strong desert winds once again played havoc with the peloton during the Tour of Qatar on stage five, blowing the bunch to pieces on several occasions and putting some riders in trouble.

Distinctive echelons of riders formed across the desert roads of the Qatar race’s fifth stage. Once a gap appears between two groups of riders, it is very hard to close it up – particularly if the lead group is determined to stay away.

Wind has split the peloton on stage five of the 2015 Tour of Qatar

Riders spread diagonally across the road in echelons caused by crosswinds

A lead group of around 30 riders contested the finish in Madinat Al Shamal, with Alexander Kristoff taking the victory after his Katusha team had done much of the damage in the preceding kilometres alongside Peter Sagan’s Tinkoff-Saxo squad.

Race leader Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep) managed to stay in the thick of the action to keep hold of the gold jersey going into Friday’s final stage. However, he only holds a slim lead over his rivals and if he gets caught on the wrong side of a split or lose bonus seconds, he could be deposed in the race’s finale.

Ian Stannard leads on stage five of the 2015 Tour of Qatar

Ian Stannard drives the pace, he sits in fourth place overall

Edvald Boasson-Hagen on stage five of the 2015 Tour of Qatar

Edvald Boasson Hagen managed to keep himself in the lead group

Marcel Kittel on stage five of the 2015 Tour of Qatar

Marcel Kittel has been working for Giant-Alpecin team-mate Nikias Arndt

Ian Stannard swaps a bike with Danny Pate on stage five of the 2015 Tour of Qatar

Ian Stannard swaps a bike with Sky team-mate Danny Pate

Bjarne Riis conducts a team talk before stage five of the 2015 Tour of Qatar

Tinkoff-Saxo manager Bjarne Riis conducts a team talk before stage five

Mechainc fix a TV camera on stage five of the 2015 Tour of Qatar

A team mechanic fixes a video camera on to Matti Breschel’s saddle

The Orbea bikes of Cofidis before stage five of the 2015 Tour of Qatar

The Orbea bikes of Cofidis

Alexander Kristoff wins stage five of the 2015 Tour of Qatar

Alexander Kristoff wins stage five narrowly ahead of Peter Sagan in a lunge for the line: no time for victory celebrations