Friday Group Ride #9

The thing about Qatar, even though they don’t have any mountains (the highest point in the country is 340ft above sea level), is that it’s windy. Head winds. Tail winds. Cross winds. And they have massive air pollution from carbon dioxide emissions that come from electricity generation, sea water desalination, etc. So, despite not fitting the Euro profile for an epic race, the Tour of Qatar presents it’s own sort of challenges to the pro peloton.

Think of it as a prep for the winds of Northern Europe and the heat of Southern Spain, with all the lung choking charm of riding full tilt through Roman rush hour.

But what does the Tour of Qatar really tell us about the coming season? Tommeke Boonen took two stages there. Does that mean he’s on for the best season of his career? And who is Francesco Chicchi? The Liquigas sprinter notched two wins there as well, which is close to the average season win total for his career. Don’t even start me on the overall win for Wouter Mol (probably not his real name), who puts Pro Contintental team Vacansoleil on track to outpace a number of the Pro Tour’s lesser lights. Milram, that means you.

Or is this like preseason basketball/football/baseball/tetherball/curling/pinochle where the results mean nothing?

Weigh in.

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  1. Michael

    things that got my attention

    1- Haussler and Cervelo storing more anger for the classics, let’s hope they knows how to effectively harness it when the time comes
    2- Taylor Phinney showing be belongs with 2 top-10 sprint finishes. as if we didn’t already know this, but he’s going to be a good one, and I hope it won’t be with Radioshack – they are not set up as a team for sprints or the classics in any way, shape or form
    3 – Boonen’s ass looking like it could rip the cranks off his bike (i vaguely remember a Motorola rider saying something like this about Big Mig back in the middle of his Tour run). If i were everyone other spring wannabee, i would stand up and pay attention – either he is taking biking seriously again or he is going to peak too soon.

  2. Aaron Hawkins

    Qatar has really morphed from a Tom Boonen show, to one where breakaways stick and the stage wins are won by all sorts of different riders. There were a number of unknown riders that found success or were there in the winning breaks as well.

    I was pretty impressed by the lesser known riders, and I don’t think that this is just a “preseason” showing. I don’t think you can call it anything less than a gunfight when you have a break go away with Cancellara, O’Grady, Bennati, and race leader Wouter Mol. Thats some serious horsepower, and I was happy to see US rider John Murphy in the mix. His first year in Europe should be an interesting one. But, for Tommeke to chase back and blow the doors off of them, that makes me happy.

    As Michael said, Haussler is pissed, and I think his racing will show it. So, in summary, I think Qatar is more and more an indicator of what will come from the hardmen later in the spring.

  3. rich_mutt

    Chicchi has got a turbo hidden somewhere in his bibs. he destroyed all comers in the final day’s sprint. what, did he come from 20th wheel and 15 meters back? he was going at least 10 mph faster than everyone at the line. what a monster!

  4. George

    I think that you have to look at this like a pre season game. Look at the big picture, no Cavendish, no “Shack”, and the Livestrong U23 crowd manages to be a middle of the pack team.

    Don’t get me wrong, genetically, I can’t think of another athelete with a better set of parents that Taylor, but at his age and with his experience, he should be an irritating mosquito to a guy like Boonen.

    I’ve got to believe that half the peloton was there just for the miles.

  5. dacrizzow

    training miles, getting to travel, shaking out the legs. i mean does anyone really think that levi is the strongest rider in the ToC? just something the big guys let him have while they get in the miles.

  6. Michael

    I think that the training miles junkies are out to lunch – Boonen, Haussler, Quick Step and Cervelo were just CHOMPING for an opportunity to put the hurt on the field if the cross winds would have kicked up again.

    Those guys are on a recon mission and are trying to sort out who the men and the boys are pre-classics

  7. George

    I think Michael wins.

    Scouting to see who’s on form and who’s behind the 8-ball.

    If you look unstoppable this early, it gives a mental edge.

  8. CK

    Guess you didn’t watch the race but Milram actually did something and mixed it up with getting 4th overall (Roger Kluge). And they all ready won a race this year so they should be better than last year.
    Radioshack will probably be the worst Pro Tour team this year in terms of total results.

  9. Big Mikey

    These races might not mean much, but they always mean something. Lance is looking leaner than any recent January, some of the other big names appear to be more active than normal for this early in the season, and we can start to see who’s going to make waves in the spring.

    Best to start slowly and whet our appetite for the big races to come.

  10. matty

    I’m with Michael. In addition, judging by Sky’s leadout train and the strength of Wiggins’ pull (look at how strung out the field was) in the closing kilometers of St6 (before the train got derailed) – they were using Qatar to really practice coming together as a team. CTT was trying to shape up, Garmin’s trying to be strong enough to get Farrar winning as much as everyone seems to think he ought to, and Boonen’s trying to prove that there’s, uh, only one white line he wants to cross (the finish line… okay, that was forced a bit). It may be too early to draw conclusions about the rest of the season’s performance but it doesn’t mean that it’s throwaway racing. They’re racing, and there’s a lot of sorting out, sizing up, and polishing to get done before classics season.

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