Crashes may have brought five of their squad to the sandy tarmac on stage four, but IAM Cycling remain confident of finishing the Tour of Qatar relatively unscathed.
Organisers were clearly worried about the wind, and the possibility of sandstorms, bringing the start time forward by over an hour, but the conditions were still hairy enough to bring a few jitters to the peloton.
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IAM’s Australian national champion Heinrich Haussler was one of the riders to crash in the final stages, but recovered to finish sixth behind Alexander Kristoff in the final sprint.
“There were two small crashes in the last kilometres, and we had to reset ourselves each time,” he told the IAM Cycling website. “It was really fast, and my crash did not bother me in the sprint.
“Even if there is a lot of wind, and a lot of concentration and energy is required, I feel well protected and am certainly fit for Thursday, no problem.”
Three more IAM riders were involved in one of the more tangled crashes of the day, with Reto Hollenstein suffering a knee to the chin from Cofidis’ Gregory Soupe, with Matthias Brändle also hitting the ground.
IAM Cycling sporting manager Rik Verbrugghe said: “It is much easier to get caught up in crashes [when it’s windy], and for us, it certainly turned out that way since five of our guys all hit the deck (Marcel Aregger, Matthias Brändle, Reto Hollenstein, Heinrich Haussler and Jonas Van Genechten).
“Fortunately, none of them were seriously injured. Only Reto took a pretty hard hit to the chin and knee, but still nothing terrible.”