“We were better today,” Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha told Cycling Weekly as he slugged down a recovery drink at the stage four finish of the Tour of Qatar to Al Khor, “better-organised and closer to where we’d like to be. But we’re a new team and there’s a long way to go yet.”
“It was a more dangerous finish than yesterday, we were trying to get Edvald [Boasson Hagen, to the front] and the plan didn’t go perfectly, but we’re getting things together.”
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“There was a plan to take Edvald [seventeenth on the stage] up with four kms to go, but there was a police motorbike or something in the way and we all got dislodged a bit,” Russell Downing added.
“I was still in position, and stuck to the plan and went with it, then Lars had a go and Edvald stayed pretty close, too. We’re getting there. Every day we’re moving forward a little bit.”
On a course with some poorly surfaced roads where crashes and accidents are getting dangerously close to being normal, Downing had his second pothole incident in 24 hours, suffering a puncture and damaged wheel.
However, this time Geraint Thomas was the Sky rider who had most problems, smashing a back wheel when he went into a rut and having to change bikes after going down.
“I jumped a speedbump and went into a rut,” Thomas said, “and my brake went into my rim.”
“I was there sliding around and then some French guy went into me and knocked me off, I hit the deck, although fortunately I was going quite slowly by then.”
“Quite a few people came up to me afterwards and saying ‘well done for holding that up’ and I had to tell them I actually got knocked off in the end…just one of those things.”
“I had to change bikes and then Ag2r really upped the pace, but I still got back on and managed to get Edvald up to the front. After that, I was dead tired, dropped back and that was it.”
Although no Sky riders were injured, Thomas says “every kilometre of this race is like ten kilometres of a normal race, everybody thinks the race is going to split apart all the time with the wind so it’s very stressful. Still, I guess it makes it more interesting for the people watching it on telly at home!”
Tour of Qatar 2010: Coverage
Tour of Qatar 2010: Photo galleries
Tour of Qatar 2010: Preview and coverage index
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Arvesen suffers collarbone break in Qatar
Bradley Wiggins set to make Team Sky debut at 2010 Tour of Qatar
2009 Tour of Qatar photo gallery
2010 UCI World Calendar: ProTour and Historic races
Cycling Weekly: Rider Profiles index