DOHA (AFP) — Niki Terpstra clinched overall victory in the Tour of Qatar Friday as Arnaud Demare won the sixth and final stage. Demare (FDJ.fr) secured the victory at Doha Corniche in a sprint finish after a 113-kilometer ride that started in Sealine Beach Resort.
Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) led the GC since winning the opening stage and finished ahead of teammate Tom Boonen, a four-time Qatar winner in his own right. Boonen won two stages during the race.
DOHA, Qatar (VN) — It couldn’t have gone much better for the Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad here on the peninsula of Qatar. The team won three stages, and finished first and second on the overall, in addition to collecting the best young rider and points classifications.
Niki Terpstra won the overall after Omega Pharma shredded the main field in the crosswinds on the very first stage, taking a wire-to-wire win. Tom Boonen finished second overall but, more importantly, won two stages in sprints, demonstrating that the cobbled master is ready for a spring date with Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and the other specialists.
“I’m really happy that all the work I’ve done over the winter was not for nothing. I hope I can keep the good shape, especially in the classics,” Terpstra said. “I don’t have the feeling I’m over the top. … I just want to say my form is ok but not on the end. I can keep it until April.”
Terptra finished third last year at Paris-Roubaix and will help make up an outlandish Omega Pharma classics team, paired with Boonen and Zdenek Stybar, among others.
Frenchman Arnaud Démare (FDJ) won the final stage at the Tour of Qatar, but most eyes were on Omega Pharma, which also won the team competition. The Belgian squad came out hard in Qatar, as it usually does, and will hope to carry the momentum into the cobbled races of Belgium and France. Trek Factory Racing, meanwhile, was much quieter here, though it has the same goals.
“The whole team was motivated here. I think since the first tour of Qatar, Quick Step was good here. So we’ve got a name to keep up. And of course in these races, with the wind, to attack is the best defense, actually,” Terpstra said. All told, Omega Pharma, or one of its former iterations, has won the Qatar race six of 13 times.
As far as the classics season, the Belgian team has reason to be excited, though Terpstra was measured Friday.
“Of course it’s not only Fabian. It’s indeed also the others. But I don’t look to them. More to our team and ourselves. We’re looking forward to it. We’re really confident,” he said. From Qatar, Terpstra will head to the Tour of Oman, then decide between Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico before the classics roll around.
“The team was really strong, and that gave me some confidence. I could rely on those strong guys, and they did a really good job for me every day, and I’m really thankful to them,” he said.