Tinkoff-Saxo’s Peter Sagan rode through a desert sandstorm on Monday to position himself for a run at the GC lead in the Tour of Qatar. The race serves up a 10.9km individual time trial on Tuesday, which may be the opportunity Sagan needs to seize the yellow jersey.
The Slovak now sits seventh overall, 10 seconds back, wearing the white jersey of best young rider after finishing fourth on stage 2, a day that saw the peloton lashed by a sandstorm and heavy crosswinds.
“It was a really tough day,” Sagan said. “We had headwind at the start, which then soon after turned into crosswind and lasted for almost the rest of the stage. It was a battle throughout the day with many splits and gaps. Overall, I think it was a good day for me and for Tinkoff-Saxo, as we had two guys in the leading group.”
Several time trial specialists looked like legitimate GC contenders when the race got underway Sunday. However, after Monday’s stage, riders such as Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) find themselves over nine minutes behind overall. They may have a chance to win stage 3, but it’s unlikely the short time trial will be their springboard into the overall lead, as some had initially predicted.
Of the riders sitting in the top 10 on GC, none are pure time trialists, but a few have the pedigree to deliver a fast ride on Tuesday. Nikki Terpstra (Etixx-Quick-Step), fifth overall, won a 6.9km prologue at the 2009 Ster Elektrotoer. His teammate, Tom Boonen, second overall, also has a Ster Elektrotoer prologue to his credit, but that was earned over 10 years ago.
As for Sagan, he won the 2012 Tour de Suisse prologue and the 2013 Tour of Alberta prologue. Perhaps the only rider who might challenge him is his teammate, 10th-placed Maciej Bodnar, who is a two-time former Polish national time trial champion and winner of the 2014 Driedaagse De Panne time trial.
“I’m very motivated and we all look forward to tomorrow’s time trial, which will be very important,” Sagan said.