Tour of Qatar likely a two horse race between Terpstra and Boonen
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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tour of Qatar likely a two horse race between Terpstra and Boonen

by Shane Stokes at 4:39 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Qatar
 
Roelandts losing hope that he can win race

Niki TerpstraAlthough third-placed rider Jurgen Roelandts reduced his deficit by one second to twenty seconds on today’s fourth stage of the Tour of Qatar, the Lotto Belisol rider appears increasingly resigned to fighting for the podium rather than the overall win in the event.

The Belgian was overtaken today by Tom Boonen, who won the intermediate sprint at Al Wukair and then took the stage victory. The resulting time bonuses saw him end the day seventeen seconds off yellow and, such is his form, Roelandts is feeling increasingly frustrated about his chances of winning the race.

“I picked up some bonification seconds along the way, but Tom Boonen has passed me in GC,” he said after the stage, where he finished thirteenth. “We were able to place André Greipel well for the sprint, Boonen was just a bit faster.

“I think the GC is almost made up. The main goal is to win a stage with the team. It will be difficult to win the overall, although you never know with the echelons. You have to be in the first group, in that case I will take part again in the intermediate sprints.”

Race leader Niki Terpstra [pictured] remains in the yellow jersey and has now just two stages to go until the race conclusion. He’s riding well and will keep plugging away, knowing that he is in sight of what could be a huge win.

“Today was a really stressful day,” he admitted. “I had a flat tire during the race, so I struggled to come back. But the team was so strong the guys kept me in the front the entire day. Then they had the power to help Tom for the sprint. It's super nice when you can count on guys like that.

“In the next two days it will be hard and stressful again. The title of my mission is 'stay awake.”

Boonen reduced his deficit between days one and two from 23 seconds to fourteen, but slipped back to 28 seconds adrift when Terpstra beat him in yesterday’s time trial.

However his sprinting ability saw him close the gap right down to seventeen seconds thanks to his victory ahead of Terpstra in the second intermediate sprint plus the stage victory itself.

Time bonuses will continue to be up for grabs in the remaining stages, but publically at least Boonen is playing down thoughts that he could wrest the lead from his team-mate.

“The next two days it will be hard again,” he predicted. “Probably less windy. But, we have to stay focused and pay attention to all the details. Niki and I are really well placed in the GC, so we will try to defend his position.

“Concerning me, I am really happy about this Tour of Qatar and it's nice to reward the team with a victory after a hard 'day at the office.’”

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