February 13, 2015 (Doha Corniche, Qatar) – After a tremendous week of racing in very demanding windy conditions, the 14th edition of the Tour of Qatar was claimed by Niki Terpstra. Like a year ago, the Dutchman conquers a well deserved Golden Jersey, eventually beating Maciej Bodnar and Alexander Kristoff. The final stage of the event ended, as expected, by a bunched sprint on the Doha Corniche. Irishman Sam Bennett flew to his first ever stage success, beating Guardini and Bouhanni to the line.
At the start of the final stage of the 2015 Tour of Qatar, there was still a lot at stake in the different standings of the event. Wearing the Golden Jersey, like a year ago at the Sealine Beach Resort was Niki Terpstra (EQS) but the Dutchman had serious pressure on his shoulders, having only a slim 6” lead over Maciej Bodnar (TCS) and 11” over three-time stage winner Alexander Kristoff (KAT). While Alejandro Valverde (MOV) had decided to call it quits before the final stage, the 132 remaining riders took off at 1:32 for a 113.5kms ride, heading north to the Doha Corniche.
As soon as the first kilometre, four riders broke away : Burghardt (BMC), Van Hecke (TSV), Boem and Pirazzi (BAR). Their lead grew rapidly and reached 1’10 at km 10. But the Katusha team then took command of the pack and started chasing, having in mind the bonus seconds up for grabs at the intermediate sprints. After their long ride north and after enjoying a maximum 2’05 lead, the front four reached the final circuit around the Doha Corniche and crossed the finish line for the first time (at km 56.5) with a 38” advantage. That gap had dropped to 22” at the second crossing of the line. Burghardt, Van Hecke and Boem were the first three to be caught by the pack, while Pirazzi carried on alone. The Italian was finally caught at km 68 just after the third passage on the line.
Time had come for the big teams to prepare for the first intermediate sprint at the 4th corssing of the line (km 68). Tom Boonen (EQS) went on to capture the win just ahead of Kristoff (KAT) and Trentin (EQS). Thanks to his 2 bonus seconds Kristoff virtually moved within 9″ of the overall lead, meaning that if he won the stage and Terpstra finished outside of the top 3, the Norwegian would win the 2015 event. At km 77, two riders took off in the lead: Keisse (EQS) and Van Hoecke (TSV). Their advantage over the pack reached 52″ at the 6th crossing of the line. At the second bonus sprint (7th crossing) won by Keisse ahead of Van Hoecke, the pack led out by Declercq (TSV) remained 45″ adrift. The escapees were finally caught at km 93 with over two laps to go. Despite attempts from the Tinkoff Saxo team to break the pack apart, the peloton remained together all the way to the finish line.
In a bunch sprint, Sam Bennett (BOA) flew to an impressive stage victory. The Irishman captured his first ever success in Qatar, beating Guardini (AST) and Bouhanni (COF) to the line. Finishing in the pack, in 25th position, Niki Terpstra went on to conquer the overall victory. A year after his first win on the Tour, the Dutchman conquers a second crown. In the final GC, the 2014 Paris-Roubaix champion wins with a 6″ lead over Bodnar and 9″ over Kristoff who has to settle for the Silver jersey (points classification winner). Sixth of the event, Peter Sagan (TCS) wins the best young riders White Pearl Jersey while Etixx Quickstep finishes best team of this 14th edition.
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18 2:24:03
2. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana Pro Team
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
5. Youcef Reguigui (Alg) MTN – Qhubeka
6. Adam Blythe (Gbr) Orica GreenEdge
7. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx – Quick-Step
8. Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step
9. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing
10. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Esp) Movistar Team
48. Dominique Rollin (Can) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
132. Svein Tuft (Can) Orica GreenEdge 4:15
1. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx – Quick-Step 17:36:48
2. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:06
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha 0:09
4. Ian Stannard (Gbr) Team Sky 0:12
5. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:19
6. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:31
7. Luke Rowe (Gbr) Team Sky 0:33
8. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling 0:39
9. Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step
10. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team 0:41
37. Dominique Rollin (Can) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 5:14
110. Svein Tuft (Can) Orica GreenEdge 21:47