Tour of Qatar to start with individual prologue, defending champion Mol to miss race
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Thursday, January 06, 2011

Tour of Qatar to start with individual prologue, defending champion Mol to miss race

by Shane Stokes at 6:39 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Vacansoleil, RadioShack, Omega Pharma Lotto, Saxo Bank and others not competing in 2011

Wouter MolA total of ten ProTeams plus six Pro Continental and Continental squads have been confirmed by race organisers ASO for the Tour of Qatar, leaving eight ProTeams absent from the race.

Leading the charge is the Quick Step team of Tom Boonen, the rider who has dominated the event in recent years with three overall victories plus 17 stage wins. The team is the most successful in the short history of the race, also winning in 2007 with Wilfried Cretskens and thus taking four out of the nine editions held thus far.

The Belgian squad will be joined by fellow ProTeams Astana, BMC Racing Team, Garmin-Cervélo, Katusha, Lampre-ISD, Rabobank, Team Sky, HTC-Highroad and the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project, which is expected to be renamed Leopard-Trek at today’s team launch.

Omega Pharma Lotto has already expressed its frustration not to have been invited to the Tours of Oman and Qatar. The race organisers said that the team was not selected as it didn’t intend sending either of its two big riders, Philippe Gilbert or André Greipel. It later offered to do so if this meant the team would get a start, but the offer was declined.

Others who miss out are Ag2r La Mondiale, Euskaltel Euskadi, Liquigas-Cannondale,Movistar, Saxo Bank SunGard, Team RadioShack and Vacansoleil. It is not known if some declined to participate, or if each were passed over by ASO.

As a UCI 2.1-ranked event, a certain number of places should be made up of non-ProTeams. Pro Continental squads FDJ, Geox-TMC, Topsport Vlaanderen, Skil Shimano and Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli have been invited, as has the Continental An Post Sean Kelly team. An invitation was previously expected by the Pegasus Sports squad, but ongoing uncertainty about the team’s future has meant that it will no longer be making the trip to the Gulf state.

ASO has also confirmed a brief detail about this year’s route, namely that a prologue will be held for the first time ever. In the past a short team time trial gets things underway but this time round, riders will race individually over a 2.5 kilometre circuit at Cultural Village.

The tenth edition of the race will start in precisely one month’s time and runs until February 11th. Last year’s winner was Vacansoleil’s Wouter Mol, who remains with the Vacansoleil team in 2011. He will consequently be unable to defend his title in the event.

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