Tour of Qatar 2016 – Stage 4 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Tour of Qatar 2016 – Stage 4 Preview

By David Hunter

Al Zubarah Fort – Madinat Al Shamal 189km

qatar 4

It’s the longest stage of the race, at 189km. That means the riders face a long, tense day in the saddle. The wind forecast is for light winds, coming from the south-west. The direction of the wind is perfect for echelons, but it does need to be a little stronger than forecast. Teams can split the race in the opening kilometres and during the lap circuit.

The lap circuit is like no other. It cuts along narrow roads, that are very exposed. The 90 degree turns, ensure a fierce battle for position and this can even split the bunch. If echelons are formed, the size of the road means that only 10 riders will make the selection. Last year, it was Katusha that caused the split, although, it did come back together. Whatever happens, this won’t be a full sprint, riders will be dropped. It can even split inside the final 5km, riders cannot relax until the stage is over.

The finish is not easy either. A long home straight, is punctuated with a roundabout, with 700metres to go. The sprint is usually into a headwind, this stage will be no different. With such a long straight, you mustn’t hit the front too soon. Staying on the inside, away from the wind, is also hugely important. Yet again, having a good lead-out is crucial!

If the race is to split, it’s hard to imagine GVA and EBH missing out. Both riders have looked very impressive and have always been at the very front of the race. It will also be very difficult to shake off Alexander Kristoff. He is so big, he cuts a huge hole in the wind. Yes, he had a poor TT, but the Norwegian will still want some more stages.

The team with most representation in Tuesday’s break, was Bora-Argon. Considering we have BMC, Astana and Dimension Data here, that was some impressive riding by the German outfit. Sam Bennett has not carried a huge amount of luck, but his TT was a big sign about his current form.

This stage is going to be very difficult for any sprinter, outside of the big three, to win. It’s very difficult to make up ground in the final straight, if you are 10th wheel at the roundabout, you won’t be winning the stage. The riders with the best trains, should dominate the podium. That’s bad news for Modolo, Guardini and Hofland!

The battle for the GC looks settled. The final stage is hard to split, so if you want to take the jersey, this stage is it. EBH leads Cav by 26 seconds, Quinziato is at 32, GVA 34 and Kristoff 45. Unless he suffers some misfortune, this is his race. Even if something does happen, Cavendish should be on hand to take over the lead. Dimension Data have this in the bag!

Prediction Time

Both Cavendish and Kristoff have won here before. So far this week, I picked Kristoff and Cavendish won. When I choose Cavendish, Kristoff won! The final straight suits a power sprint, I’ll go with Kristoff. You know what that means!?

David Hunter

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