Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) completed his first stage race of the season, the Tour of Qatar, satisfied with his choice of riding in the Middle East rather than doing the Etoile de Besseges as had been initially planned for his opening race.
Sky has ridden well in Qatar, with a victory in the opening team time trial. The entire squad did some strong team work in stage five, too, pulling back a dangerous late break for Edvald Boasson Hagen, who then finished third. He also took sixth on the final stage.
The only really negative note has been Kurt Asle Arvesen’s broken collarbone after crashing in the neutralised section of stage two.
“It’s been good, exactly what I wanted, specially looking at what the weather’s been like in France,” Wiggins told Cycling Weekly.
“We didn’t want to risk losing any racing and that workout in the finale in stage five was just what I wanted. Overall it’s been a good start.”
As for the final stage, “We came to the front with four kilometres to go for Edvald [Boason Hagen, sixth in the final sprint] there and give him as good a chance as possible”, said Sky team manager Scott Sunderland.
“He’s far from his top form, so it was a good result, and beyond that it was a pretty calm day for everybody, just waiting for the finale and those laps round the Doha corniche.”
Whilst Sunderland is now off to the Sky training camp currently underway in Valencia, Wiggins heads for the UK before taking part in the five-day Ruta del Sol-Tour of Andalusia in Spain, which starts on February 21 in the southern city of Jaén.
The final sprint of the Tour of Qatar went to Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas), his second stage win in this year’s, with the overall victory for Wouter Mol (Vancansoleil).
The teams prize went to Cervélo, a fine result consdering the harsh minute penalty for an allegedly illegal manouvre, that they received in the team time trial on stage one.
“Today was very hard because the final lap was at a crazy speed,” Chicchi said afterwards, “Sky really powered it up there to maybe 70 kmh.”
“I took the slightly longer route in the final metres round the outside of the curve, but that way I could avoid the worst of the wind and I got the win.”
“We wanted a bunch sprint today and did a good job of controlling things, then my team brought me up to the front for the final kilometres,” Mol said afterwards.
“The hardest stage was when I got the jersey in that long break, after that I we just had to keep things under control.”
Most of the riders in Qatar will now be going on to the Tour of Oman, starting Sunday evening local time with a city centre criterium, where Sky will be taking part again.
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