The Tour of Qatar has been notable for the performances of Mark Cavendish, whose stage one win has seen him either leading or in second place on general classification. He is not, however, the only British rider in the race.
Mark McNally is riding his second Tour of Qatar and today managed to show off the jersey of his new team, Wanty-Groupe Gobert. The Liverpudlian rider spent most of the day off the front of the peloton in not one, but two breakaways.
The first of those escapes went clear around 10 kilometres after the start and initially contained eleven riders, two of whom dropped out. The second break materialised when the peloton eased in a headwind.
“I think it was bit easier out front,” McNally told us at the finish. “You don’t have the stress of the fight all day, so it was a nice place to be.
“It split behind just before we hit the finishing circuit, so we rode like mad coming into the finishing circuit. There was bit of a fight to get back in the line then they caught us.
“I was a bit worried about the circuit to be honest, I thought the wind would be bit more vicious. When we hit the headwind at the back [of the circuit] and the peloton just stopped, I just followed a wheel and got away again.”
Was there any hope of staying away? “With two laps to go we had a minute and 30 and I thought… We had no chance if I think about it, but it’s nice to get out there and open the legs up.”
McNally’s last visit to Qatar was in 2011 during a five-year stint with An Post, “I was a lot younger then,” he explained. “I was a bit shocked by it all, the speed and the viciousness of an echelon, but I knew what to expect of it here, if you know what’s coming you can prepare better.”
The 26-year-old spent some time with the Olympic Development Programme before a spell with Halfords Bikehut. After his time at An Post, in 2015 McNally rode in the UK for Madison Genesis before his continental move this season.
The move from the UK racing season is a step up and gives him different opportunities though, he says, not necessarily better.
Watch: Show us your scars – Mark McNally
“You get more race days,” he explained. “In Madison I had the luxury of saying I want to target that or I want to target that, whereas in this team I have to establish myself before I can do that.
“You’re getting more opportunities, you’re getting raced, so it’s what you make of it. Which way’s better? I’ll tell you in December.”