Lotto Belisol: Preview Tour of Qatar
Lotto Belisol goes to the Middle-East. First for the Tour of Qatar, a few days later followed by the Tour of Oman. Both races are part of the Asia Tour. Today we look ahead to the Tour of Qatar. This 13th edition will take place from Sunday 9th of February until Friday 14th of February. The fixed ingredients are sand, wind and high speed.
Of course some touristic attractions are put in the picture. The second stage starts at the camel race track outside the centre of capital Doha. On the third day a time trial of 10,9 km is on the programme, near the Lusail auto circuit. In the last two stages there are local laps at the end. The final stage finishes on the Corniche in Doha, the promenade along the coast.
André Greipel will continue his season in Qatar, after a successful opener at the Tour Down Under where he won two stages. With Kris Boeckmans and Pim Ligthart also the last newcomers at Lotto Belisol will come in action. At the start are among other also Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert. Just like sprinters Theo Bos, Arnaud Démare, Alexander Kristoff and Elia Viviani. The finishes are expected between 14:00 and 14:30 CET, there is a time difference of two hours with Qatar.
Bart Leysen, sports director: “Four years ago I was in Qatar for the last time, I expect it to have changed a lot. In Doha they are always constructing new buildings. When you haven’t been there for a few years, you don’t recognize certain parts anymore. There are hardly any people along the route, most of them are Belgians or other Europeans that work in Qatar. Between the start and finish there are only a few towns, the rest is sand. The temperature in this period is hardly ever above 30°C, so that’s alright.”
“The Tour of Qatar is a race with echelons, the wind plays an important role each day. It’s a tough race. Someone who isn’t good, will definitely get dropped. It’s definitely the type of race for Jürgen Roelandts. Lars Bak, Pim Ligthart and Marcel Sieberg are also used to riding in echelons and André Greipel perfectly knows where he has to be placed. When the field is broken up, a small group will battle for the stage win. You have to be represented with as much riders as possible. When there are echelons you shouldn’t doubt, a small hesitation can be enough to miss out.”
Selection Lotto Belisol: Lars Bak, Kris Boeckmans, Gert Dockx, André Greipel, Pim Ligthart, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg and Jonas Van Genechten.
Sports director: Bart Leysen
Stage 1: Sunday 9th of February: Al Wakra – Dukhan Beach (135,5 km)
Stage 2: Monday 10th of February: Camel Race Track – Al Khor Corniche (160,5 km)
Stage 3: Tuesday 11th of February: Lusail Circuit – Lusail Circuit (10,9 km) (ITT)
Stage 4: Wednesday 12th of February: Dukhan – Mesaieed (135 km)
Stage 5: Thursday 13th of February: Al Zubara Fort – Madinat Al Shamal (159 km)
Stage 6: Friday 14th of February: Sealine Beach Resort – Doha Corniche (113,5 km)