Tour of Qatar, Stage 2: Two In Top 109. February 2015 — Road Team
Greg Van Avermaet finished third and Marcus Burghardt was eighth for the BMC Racing Team as both moved into the top 10 overall Monday on a chaotic, wind-swept Stage 2 of the Tour of Qatar. (©Tim De Waele/TDWsport)
Ahead of Tuesday's 10-kilometer individual time trial, Van Avermaet is third overall, three seconds behind new race leader Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha), who won the stage. Burghardt sits sixth overall, nine seconds off the lead. Both BMC Racing Team riders made the decisive front group of 15 riders late in the 194-km race.
Van Avermaet said after another day of riding at the front – he was in five-man breakaway for nearly 80 kilometers after soloing away for a time in Sunday's opening stage – he is not sure of his form for the time trial.
"I will see how it goes," he said. "I have spent a lot of energy the first two days already. Last year, I did a good time trial and there is not a specialist up front (in the overall standings). So if I can stay close to Tom Boonen and the other guys, that will be good. I am feeling pretty good. The breakaways were not as long as normal, but I feel my form is good. It is a good sign for the classics."
Peloton Split By Strong Winds
Spurred on by a strong tailwind, the peloton averaged more than 54 kilometers an hour the first two hours of the longest stage of the race. Strong winds – combined with sandstorm conditions – wreaked havoc almost immediately. Echelons formed, mechanical issues ensued and the race ran more than 20 minutes ahead of its fastest schedule.
"It was crazy from the start, with all kinds of sand on the roads," BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said. "When the group split to 40 riders, we had Greg, Marcus, Philippe Gilbert and Jempy Drucker there. But then Gilbert had a flat at a moment the car was not behind him, so he was dropped."
Drucker, who was the BMC Racing Team's best finisher on the opening stage, also saw his chance of staying up front ruined by a mechanical problem when he touched the wheel of the rider in front of him, Piva said.
Kristoff won the sprint from Andrea Guardini (Astana Pro Team) with Van Avermaet ahead of Slovakian national road champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Etixx-Quick Step's Boonen, a four-time winner of this race, in fifth.
"It was a hard sprint with the tailwind," Van Avermaet said. "They surprised us a little from the back so I had to close the gap and then Kristoff started his sprint. So it was hard to come over him. I think I did a good sprint to get third place."
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