ASO / Yuzuru Sunada
Like a year ago, in Dukhan, when Brent Bookwalter captured the first stage, clear from the pack of sprinters, Niki Terpstra made the best of his breakaway to clinch his first win on the 2014 Tour of Qatar. With just under 30kms to go, the Dutchman from Omega Pharma – Quickstep who had been extremely active all along the day, managed to break away, taking with him four other men. He eventually out sprinted his rivals. Terpstra captures the first leader’s Golden Jersey.
After rain showers hit Qatar during the morning, the skies miraculously cleared for the start of the first stage of the men’s Tour of Qatar by the sea in Al Wakra. 152 riders took off at 1:06 PM for a 135.5-kilometer ride all the way to Dukhan beach on the west coast of Qatar – no rain, no clouds but a very strong wind. The pace was fast straight from the start (over 70km/h). Lieeuwe Westra (AST) was the first to manage a significant break at km 9, enjoying a 20” lead but he was soon caught by the chasing pack at km 18.
The first intermediate sprint (Mesaieed, km 20) was claimed by Terpstra (OPQ) ahead of Kristoff (KAT) and Bennett (TNE) while the pack remained bunched. At kilometer 32, five men broke away: Kohler (BMC), Westra (AST), Houlé (ALM), Salomein (TSV) and Chtioui (SKD). Their lead went from 1’35 at km 34 to a maximum 6’20 at km 40. Under the influence of the crosswind and while some of the big guns of the Tour pushed hard, the pack broke up into several groups. 21 riders managed to break away including Boonen (OPQ), Cancellara (TFR), Greipel (LTB) and Gilbert (BMC). They caught the front five as soon as km 59. Eventually the peloton regrouped at km 95.
Another decisive move occurred just before the second bonus sprint (Umm Bab, km 107.5) when Niki Terpstra took off on his own. He went on to win that sprint with a 5” lead over Roelandts (LTB) and Schar (BMC). These three men continued their efforts and were joined by Van Kersbulck (OPQ) and Elmiger (IAM), already a key actor of last year’s final breakaway on stage 1. The front five riders had a 25” lead with 25 kilometers to go and that advantage grew to 32” in the last 5 kilometers.
Despite strong efforts from the sprinting teams, but not Omega Pharma-Quickstep, having two men at the front, the escapees kept a decent enough lead to consider stage victory on the last straight along Dukhan Beach. Ever present all along the day, Niki Terpstra powered to the line to win his first individual stage in Qatar.
The 29 year-old Dutchman from Bewerwijk beat Jurgen Roelandts and Michael Schar to the line. Thanks to his 12th career win, Terpstra captures the overall leader’s Golden Jersey as well as the leadership in the points’ classification. After this first stage, Sam Bennett (TNE) claims the Pearl White jersey for the best young rider.
Results from first stage of the Tour of Qatar on Sunday – 135km to Dukhan Beach:
Tour of Qatar Stage 1
1. Niki Terpstra (NED/Omega Pharma) 3:13:42
2. Jurgen Roelandts (BEL) at 1sec
3. Michael Schär (SUI) 1
4. Martin Elmiger (SUI) 1
5. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL) 7
6. Tom Boonen (BEL) 7
7. Barry Markus (NED) 7
8. Arnaud Demare (FRA) 7
9. Michael Van Staeyen (BEL) 7
10. Marcel Sieberg (GER) 7.
General Classification After Stage 1
1. Niki Terpstra (NED/Omega Pharma) 3:13:26
2. Jurgen Roelandts (BEL) at 9sec
3. Michael Schär (SUI) 12
4. Martin Elmiger (SUI) 17
5. Sam Bennet (IRL) 22,
6. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL) 23,
7. Tom Boonen (BEL) 23
8. Barry Markus (NED) 23
9. Arnaud Demare (FRA) 23
10. Michael Van Staeyen (BEL) 23.