Tour of Qatar:
so we get 6 stages in the warm climate of Qatar, unlike the football world cup this is taking place in the colder months, but this makes for a great preparation for riders aiming to have racing in the legs before the classics. This race may be flat but its far from easy, fast paced groups and wind will create echelons. Echelons don’t discriminate and lead to hard racing for all riders as being at front is much in demand.
Stage 1: Sunday, February 3, 143 km
Katara Cultural Village ? Dukhan Beach
Stage 2: Monday, February 4, 14 km TTT
Al Rufaa Street
Stage 3: Tuesday, February 5, 143 km
Al Wakra ? Mesaieed
Stage 4: Wednesday, February 6, 160 km
Camel Race Track ? Al Khor Corniche
Stage 5: Thursday, February 7, 154 km
Al Zubara Fort ? Madinat Al Shamal
Stage 6: Friday, February 8, 116 km
Sealine Beach Resort ? Doha Corniche
From what has been said stage 1 will create spilts, so the challenge is not just about being fastest in the sprint but being clever about how you stop yourself being separated from the front of the race. Bonnen won 3 of the last 5 renewals showing that a good classics rider who can hold themselves in the sprint will do well here. Cavendish fills in for him at OPQS this season. Renshaw and Mol are the other two recent winners,. A pure sprinter won’t survive in this so i question the favouritism of Cavendish for this event.Degenkolb has a bright future ahead in all formats of racing
Boassen Hagen is strong rider and one of those that holds his one in sprint, antoehr with strong team for the time trial stage. Cancellera for me has less of a sprint these days and surely the team time trial is not long enough to create a winning gap by itself. Thomas is too short here he will not out sprint these. Should work for Boassen Hagen anyway. Phinney is like Cancellera but im not sure his sprint and even his team mate not be as strong in the time trial.
Flecha is 20/1, hes moved from sky now but again will his team lose time in time trial and how strong will his sprint be he has placed here before and is a very smart racer. Haussler suits this race he is 25/1, hes now with his new team who may lack strength in the time trial. Degenkolb showed how strong and street smart he was in last years Vuelta winning a few stages and didnt always need his team to go and do so. He was 15th here last season so within reach if improving this season.
Bennati at 40/1 is interesting he did not race this last year, now with Saxo could he repeat 2011 when he was 3rd here he is a good mix of sprinter and able to handle himself in this sort of racing, moving means he is the focus of his team. Two 50/1 guys with chance are Gallopin who is part of strong Radioshack squad and rides hard in classics to get an interest in this. He was 14th here last year and is a rider whos taken my eye over past year its good that his team appeared well prepared in Oz. Modolo had big win out sprinting Cavendish in Argentina but may lack the tactics for week long race.
Bets:.2pts Degenkolb 25/1 betvictor
.1pts Gallopin 50/1 ladbrokes
.1pt Bennati 40/1 various
Outright match bets:
2pts Degenkolb to beat Haussler 4/5 bet365 (
2pts Bennati to beat Blythe 6/5 bet365 5/4 hills
2pts Gallopin to beat Van Keirsbulck 1/2 bet365 (1.59 pinnacle)
1pt Cavendish to beat Boasson Hagen evens bet365 (2.03 pinnacle)
3pts Flecha to beat Thomas 13/10 bet365 (2.28 pinnacle)Flecha wants to show himself with his new team
My Strongest bet, with thomas having worked hard in oz he may have settle for 2nd best with sky here, flecha now with vacan has to go prove hes stronger than sky ever let me be, he has one more big season left in him.
2pts Bouhanni to beat Kristoff 4/7 hills
3pts Phinney to beat Thomas 6/5 betvictor
Phinney is a likely leader for BMC here and im opposing thomas here.
1pt Gallopin to beat Van Avermaet 11/10 betvictor
1pt Felcha to beat Cancellera 11/8 betvictor