Ian Stannard will look to elbow his way onto the top of the Tour of Qatar classification following the crucial stage three time-trial taking place on Tuesday.
The 26 year-old Sky team leader moved up to sixth on the general classification on stage two, a reward for making the key, race-winning move with 60km to go along with Sky teammates Luke Rowe and Bernie Eisel.
Many eyes at tomorrow’s 10.9km time trial will be on the likes of Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory) and race leader Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quickstep).
However Stannard, who is 23 seconds down on Terpstra, believes the fact that it will be raced on road bikes (in order to save teams the cost of sending their TT bikes from Europe to Qatar) could play to his advantage.
“It’s definitely an advantage to do it on road bikes, it suits me more,” he said at the end of the stage as he tucked into a slice of pepperoni pizza.
“I haven’t been working on time trialling, but the Tour of Britain time trial went quite well, that was the last one, so I can take some positives from that.”
It took some 100km of racing on the 160km second stage of this year’s Tour of Qatar for a break to stick, but when it did there was no doubting its compostion.
Five Omega Pharma-Quickstep riders and a host from Lotto-Belisol, Tinkoff-Saxo and Belkin forced their way to the front around a notorious right hand bend before powering down the motorway to Al Khor with a roaring tailwind.
Tom Boonen took the sprint to the line after a leadout from Andy Fenn, whose fourth place moved him into the pearl white jersey of best young rider. Stannard placed sixth.
“That was probably one of the toughest days I’ve had here,” said Luke Rowe, who crossed the line a few seconds down on the winner. “It split with 60km to go and that’s a lot way when you’re going full gas at the end.
“It’s always nice to make the front group. I pulled as hard as I could for as long as I could to try and get as many seconds as possible for the benefit of Ian, so I’m pretty happy with myself.”
Three more typical flat and windy road stages follow tomorrow’s time trial, with the race concluding on Friday in Doha.
“He [Stannard] is looking good for the TT tomorrow,” Rowe added. “I think he can put in a good performance and get on the podium.”
Tour of Qatar 2014, stage two: Tom Boonen back to winning ways in the Tour of Qatar
Andy Fenn playing his part in the Omega Pharma-Quickstep powerhouse at the Tour of Qatar
Ian Stannard - rider profile, biog, cycling results, photos