McGee keeps cool head ahead of Saxo Bank's classics season
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

McGee keeps cool head ahead of Saxo Bank's classics season

by Samuel Morrison at 6:27 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Qatar
 

Saxo Bank sports director, Brad McGee, is keeping a cool head despite wins being within his team's grasp. His troops have placed third three times in the last four stages of the Tour of Qatar.

"You have to remember that six of our eight guys here are building for the classics," said McGee. "It is important not to get too excited here, there is still a long way to go. In saying that, though, there is still racing and we are still concentrating."

Half of his eight-man team arrived from racing at the Tour Down Under in Australia – Baden Cooke, Juan José Haedo, Frank Hoj and Stuart O'Grady – and the other half are coming off of a cold European winter – Matti Breschel, Fabian Cancellara, Lucas Sebastian Haedo and Dominic Klemme.

They worked together to finish in third place, 13 seconds off the winning team time trial of Sky on day one. Australian Cooke finished third in stage three and Argentinean JJ Haedo closed yesterday in, you guessed it, third place.

"It shows our guys are more than in the race, that's for sure," McGee continued, "even though they are not exposing themselves to too much physical stress.

"The racing is fast, the sprints are topping out at 76hph. They won't get any faster as the season develops, but they will go from longer out."

The positioning for sprints and the high winds in Qatar have sent some riders home. Four riders in as many days have left the race with broken collarbones: Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Sky), Garmin team-mates Steven Cozza and Kirk Carlsen, and Gerald Ciolek (Milram).

"I think it is tough for some of them as the first race of the season," said McGee. "Luckily, we have only had that one windy day [stage two] so far, the rest of the day has been calm.

"Five years ago you could start these races with a pretty good winter's training and still be competitive, but now, you have to actually drop the hammer in November and be ready in January to try to even keep up with those blokes."

The Tour of Qatar ends tomorrow, but McGee will take his team to the Tour of Oman before heading back to Europe. It is the race's debut, but he has printed out the stage maps and has talked to organiser Eddy Merckx.

"The stages are a little longer and there are some hills, maybe even some climbs. Then, there is a nice time trial to end it."

After Oman, it is north to Europe and the start of the classics season: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and on to the big ones, like Paris-Roubaix, where Cancellara and O'Grady are already champions.

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