Tour of Qatar: stems of information

How the riders use their bikes to have miniature race manuals within eyeshot.

Even in this navigation equipment age, sticking notes detailing a race’s most salient challenges – be it hills, cobbled sections and sometimes both combined – onto stems remains a rider favourite.

Cycling Weekly took a closer look at this before the challenging, windswept stage two of this year’s Tour of Qatar from Al Wakra to Al Khor Corniche.

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Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)

KristoffThese notes adorned the Norwegian’s stage-winning bike, which he stressed was largelly bronze-coloured and not gold (after his London 2012 road race medal, although it does look gold…). The typically European way of writing the number one (why so big?) stands out.

Niki Terpstra (Etixx-Quick Step)

TerpstraYou don’t win the Tour of Qatar if you can’t ride the wild wind. The defending champion’s notes are rather good, although we can’t work out why there are goalposts at KM 170. Terpstra placed 11th on the stage. Style: 3/5 Detail 3/5


CofidisPrinted! In colour! In a table! Whoever said Cofidis is stuck in the past? Even so, Canadian Dominique Rollin was its highest finisher in 36th, 3-08 behind Kristoff. Style: 4/5 Detail 4/5


LampreLampre’s riders all had the same handwritten stem notes, which can only mean one thing: a soigneur got the short straw. Whereas many notes include arrows, a subtle hyphen either side of the distances note the directional changes. Style: 3/5 Detail 3/5

Bora-Argon 18

BoraWhen you’re fighting for position, the last thing you (probably) need are some detailed notes to get your head around. This short, but simple example avoids the need for long glances. Style: 1/5 Detail 2/5

Marcus Burghardt (BMC)

BurghardtNot the most detailed, nor the most elegant. Still a front group finisher, mind. Style: 1/5 Detail 2/5

Vincente Reynes (IAM)

ReynesAh, the classic approach to stem notes. What more do you need to know other than the sprint and finish distances? Style: 0/5 Detail 1/5

David Boucher (FDJ)

BoucherNo, it’s not the Belgian’s weekly shopping list: this really is David Boucher’s set of stem notes for today’s stage. Style: 5/5 Detail 5/5

Michael Morkov (Tinkoff-Saxo)

MorkovMore concise than Vincente Reynes’s, but nonetheless one of the more compact sets of notes from one of CW’s cult heroes. Nonetheless, he got in the day’s short-lived breakaway. Style: 3/5 Detail 2/5

Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge)

KeukeleireWere these done in a hurry? It seems like that way. Nonetheless, the arrows noting the hairpin bend in the final three kilometres were a nice touch – this would have been useful had the Belgian not have punctured out of the leading group approaching the finish. Style: 1/5 Detail 4/5