Terpstra Wins Stage 1 of Tour of Qatar 2014
With just under thirty kilometers to go, the Dutchman from the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team who had been extremely active in the stage, managed to break away, taking with him four other riders. He eventually outsprinted his rivals and took the golden race leader's jersey.
After rain showers hit Qatar during the early morning, the skies miraculously cleared for the start of the first stage of the 2014 Tour of Qatar by the sea in Al Wakra. 152 riders took off at 01:06 PM for a 135.5-kilometer ride to Dukhan beach on the west coast of Qatar. No rain, no clouds but a very strong wind dominated the stage. Indeed the pace was impressively fast immediately from the start (over 70 km/h). Astana's Lieeuwe Westra was the first to manage a significant break at kilometer 9, enjoying a 20 second lead, but he was soon to be gobbled up by the chasing pack at kilometer 18.
The first intermediate sprint (Mesaieed, kilometer 20) was claimed by Terpstra ahead of Katusha's Kristoff and Bennett (TNE) while the pack remained bunched. At kilometer 32 five men broke away: Martin Kohler (BMC Racing Team), Westra (AST), Houlé (ALM), Salomein (TSV) and Chtioui (SKD). Their lead went from 1’35 at kilometer 34 to a maximum 6’20 at kilometer 40.
Strongly affected by the crosswinds and while some of the big guns of the Tour pushed hard in their pedals, the peloton broke up into several groups. 21 riders managed to break away including Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team). They caught the front quintet around kilometer 59 and continued the attack. Eventually, the different groups bunched up together again at kilometer 95.
Another decisive move occurred just before the second bonus sprint (Umm Bab, kilometer 107.5) when Niki Terpstra took off on his own. He went on to win that sprint with a 5” lead over Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) and Michael Schär (BMC Racing Team). These three men continued their efforts and were joined by Van Kersbulck (OPQ) and Martin Elmiger (IAM), already a key actor in last year’s final breakaway on stage 1. The front five riders had a 25” lead with 25 kilometres to go and that advantage grew to 32” in the last 5 kilometers.
Despite strong efforts from the sprinter teams, excluding Omega Pharma-Quickstep which had two men at the front, the escapees kept a decent enough lead to fight for the stage victory as they reached 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 (he has already won a team time trial).
The 29 year-old Dutchman from Bewerwijk beat Jurgen Roelandts and Michael Schär 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.