© Presse Sports
The riders on the Tour of Qatar will have only the strict minimum of time to gauge each other’s performance: out of the 6 stages on the menu of the Tour of Qatar 2012, the only respite for the sprinters will be at the team time-trial on the Lusail racing circuit.
Apart from this interlude scheduled for the second day of the race, it really is time to get back to business for the final straight finishers. On Qatar’s roads they will have the opportunity of testing their team-mates’ mettle during pursuits on windy terrain, the quality of their lead-out men’s reactions and the efficiency of their final top speed. This will especially be the case for Mark Cavendish, who in Doha will be starting a year that he hopes to be genuinely exceptional: having been recruited by Team Sky, more significantly he will be wearing the World Champion’s jersey throughout the season and is intending to honour it in the finest way on the races at the Olympic Games in London. In the meantime, with the competition that he will have to tame in Qatar, there will certainly be a fierce battle for the sprint finishes teeming with international talent. Greipel and Farrar will be his main rivals, but also young up-and-coming riders like Degenkolb, Galymzianov, Sagan or the youth World Champion Arnaud Demare will be ready to shoulder, elbow and pedal their way into the reckoning to rock the established order. The former winners of the event Tom Boonen and title holder Mark Renshaw will have their work cut out to leave their mark on the race. The task could be even more difficult for pretenders to victory on the forthcoming classics: Philippe Gilbert, Fabian Cancellara, Filippo Pozzato and Thor Hushovd will have to watch out.
16 teams: the main riders
GreenedgeCycling Team (GEC): Cooke, McEwen (Aus)
Lotto-Belisol Team (LTB): Greipel (Ger), Roelandts (Bel)
Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Boonen (Bel), Chicchi (Ita)
Champion System (CSS): Clarke (Aus)
FarneseVini-Selle Italia (FAR): Pozzato (Ita)
Liquigas-Cannondale (LIQ): Sagan (Svk)
BMC Racing Team (BMC): Gilbert (Bel), Hushovd (Nor)
Garmin-Barracuda (GRM): Farrar (USA), Hunter (SAf)
Radioshack-Nissan (RNT): Cancellara (Swi), Gallopin (Fra)
FDJ-BigMat (FDJ): Demare (Fra), Rollin (Can)
SkyProcycling (SKY): Cavendish (GB), Eisel (Aut)
Bridgestone Anchor (BGT): Sonnery (Fra)
Project 1t4i (PRO): Degenkolb (Ger), Veelers (Hol)
Rabobank Cycling Team (RAB): Renshaw (Aus), Tjallingii (Hol)
Katusha Team (KAT): Galimzyanov, Ignatyev (Rus)
RTS Racing Team (RTS): McCann (Irl)
For the 11th edition of the Tour of Qatar, 16 teams of 8 riders will be battling against each other from 5th to 10th February 2012.
These dates will signal a return to business for many leading lights of cycling’s elite, who have already signed up for this first major event of the year.
On the programme are four flat stages which should suit all-rounders/sprinters and a team time-trial on the Lusail car racing circuit where the best international teams will display their collective power.
The 16 selected teams:
Greenedge Cycling Team
Omega Pharma-Quick Step Cycling Team
Sky Pro Cycling
Farnese Neri Cycling Team
Bridgestone Anchor Pro Cycling Team
RTS Racing team
BMC Racing Team