Andy Fenn is riding with giants at the Tour of Qatar.
The 6’1” British rouleur, remarkably, is the second smallest rider on his Omega Pharma-Quickstep team at the race, with only iljo Keisse (6’0”) to look down to.
Around him for the duration of the six day race this week are Tom Boonen (6’4”), Gert Steegmans (6’3”), Nicolas Maes (6’3”), Niki Terpstra (6’2”) and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (6’4”).
Looming above them all like a new skyscraper on the Doha skyline is Stijn Vandenbergh (6’7”).
As one Belgian newspaper journalist put it: we don’t have Giant-Shimano at this race, we have a giant Omega Pharma-Quickstep.
“It’s a bit different from racing the Tour of Catalunya isn’t it!?” Fenn joked at the start of the first stage of the race in Al Wakra.
“They are all big strong guys; you can see why they like the crosswinds and the powerful stuff. At least they give a lot of shelter, that’s a bonus.”
The Belgian squad’s manager Patrick Lefevere told Cycling Weekly he has sent ‘more or less’ his ‘Classics A team’ to Qatar, with Niki Terpstra taking the race lead after winning from a successful breakaway on stage one.
For 23 year-old Fenn, who started his third season in the pro ranks at the Tour Down Under, a strong performance with the big boys could keep him in the frame for a spot at the Spring Classics this season.
“I’ve got to show well, do what the team asks of me,” he said. “If they think I can do something in one of the Classics then they’ll put me in [the squad].
“The Classics are a big thing for this team and there is a big group of riders that all want to do them,” he added. “You have to fight for your place.
“I feel like I’ve stepped up this season, and I feel pretty good at the moment and that will show more in the Belgian races.”