Etixx-QuickStep's recipe for Tour of Qatar success: Be big and strong

With eight victories in 14 editions of the Tour of Qatar, how does the Etixx-QuickStep team do it?

The Etixx team chases on stage four of the 2015 Tour of Qatar
(Image credit: Watson)

Belgian team Etixx-QuickStep appears to be made for the Tour of Qatar. It took its eighth overall win in Doha today from only 14 editions of the race. What's the team's recipe for success?

"Maybe because it's a bit of a tradition for our team and there's some pressure on," winner and Dutchman, Niki Terpstra said.

"Of course, we are a good team. Look at the team, Matteo Trentin is the smallest rider at 180cm, but he's not so small. We are big guys, specialists in this kind of stuff and we have experience, and we know the roads in Qatar."

Terpstra won by six seconds over Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff-Saxo) and nine over Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). Sky's Ian Stannard placed fourth at 12 seconds.

Sam Bennett wins Tour of Qatar final stage

Irish sprinter Sam Bennett takes final stage victory as Niki Terpstra seals overall win in 2015 Tour of Qatar. Photos

"We are a classics-focused team, so we have a lot of good guys to pick a strong team from," Belgium's Tom Boonen, a four-time winner in Qatar, said.

"We always come here with a strong and motivated team. From the first year, we liked it here. If you have a few guys that are really good at this, you can almost get everyone in the front group."

Both Boonen and Terpstra have won Paris-Roubaix, Terpstra winning last year after the Qatar overall two months beforehand.

Etixx helped cause a split on day one of the six-day race that put Terpstra towards the top. Terpstra took over the leader's jersey after he won day three's time trial over Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky).

Niki Terpstra Tour of Qatar 2015

Double Tour of Qatar winner Niki Terpstra: both strong and big
(Image credit: Gregor Brown)

With its flat and sandy countryside, and wide and straight roads, followers could find Qatari racing boring. The wind, however, usually makes up for the scenery.

"You don't have much time to look to the countryside if there's wind," added Boonen, "but if there's a headwind, it's very, very boring."

"Boring is not the right word, sometimes the roads are really long and empty," Terpstra said, "but the bike race goes too fast to call it boring."

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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.