Watch Out For The Gorilla, Tom!


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'Master of the house' Tom Boonen is returning to Qatar, although the leader of Omega Pharma Quick Step will have the star sprinter of the Belgian team Lotto-Belisol as his main rival. André Greipel also seems to have all it takes to leave his mark on the history of the event.

For the last twelve years at the start of the season, the roads of Qatar bring together riders with different ambitions. Each has his own strategy and short- or medium-term objectives, and everyone starts with his confidence sky-high. The best way to boost this confidence is, not surprisingly, previous wins, and race number 1 holder Tom Boonen has often taken first place on the podium in Doha. The winner of 20 stages, the classic rider knows full well that the years in which he has won in Qatar are among the most productive of his career. Indeed, his only stumble in the Qatar race in 2013 took place in his most unproductive season, with just one stage win in the Tour of Wallonia. To get back in the groove, ‘Tornado Tom' will return to the formula that has given him the best results. His search for gold, however, may well come up against the hunger of another collector of bouquets, a man who has decided to come to Qatar to give his season an early boost: André Greipel. The German rider was only 22 years old when he took part in his first and only Tour of Qatar in 2005, but he is back with a much better chance of beating Boonen on his ‘home ground'. Greipel, nicknamed ‘the Gorilla', has already made his mark by winning two stages of the season's curtain-raiser, the Tour Down Under. Apart from the two main favourites, the circle of aspirants can be extended to a few other sprinters who will be there or thereabouts, such as the previous stage winners Heinrich Haussler, Greg Van Avermaet or Arnaud Demare, but they will also have to fight off Daniele Bennati, Borut Bozic, Alexander Kristoff and Elia Viviani.

19 teams: the main competitors
Team Netapp-Endura: Bennett (Irl)

Orica Greenedge: Howard (Aus), Tuft (Can)

Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Boonen, Steegmans (Bel), Terpstra (Ned)
Lotto-Belisol Team: Greipel (Ger), Roelandts (Bel)
Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise: Van Staeyen, Wallays (Bel)

United States
BMC Racing Team: Gilbert, Van Avermaet (Bel)
Trek Factory Racing: Cancellara (Che)
United Healthcare Pro Cycling Team: Förster (Ger), Maaskant (Ned)

United Arab Emirates
Skydive Dubaï: L-S. Haedo (Arg), Chtioui (Tun)

France Demare, Offredo (Fra)
AG2R La Mondiale: Riblon, Turgot, Gaudin (Fra)
Great Britain
Sky Procycling: Eisel (Aut), Stannard (Gbr)

Cannondale: Viviani (Ita)
Bardiani CSF: Battaglin (Ita)

Astana Pro Team: Guardini (Ita), Bozic (Slo), Westra (Hol)

Belkin Pro Cycling: Bos, Boom (Hol)

Katusha Team: Kristoff (Nor)
Tinkoff-Saxo: Bennati (Ita), Morkov (Dnk)

IAM Cycling: Haussler (Aus), Elmiger (Che)

The news in pictures


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Jersey wearers after the stage 6

Classifications after the stage 6


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