February 21, 2012

The Desert Wind

The opening race of the season for many of the Classics riders is the Tour of Qatar. The race through the desert is known for high wind, echelons, dust, crashes and sprints. Within the peloton there is an almost constant push for the front as every rider fights to be in the front of the group before it is sliced into echelons. Positioning is crucial when battling the wind as the peloton splits and unless the wind changes there is little change of regrouping. The roads are wide open, often fairly bumpy and are lined with cateyes, or reflectors, which can buck a rider off of his bike in a second if he’s not gripping his bars tightly. Sadly, my race came to an end with two days to go when the rider in front of me hit a cateye and lost control of his bike at over 60 km/h. I hit his bike, fell, and broke my femur and arm. My body was covered in scrapes and bruises. On the upside, the team performed well, the ambiance was good and we won two stages. As my teammates move on to the Classics I’ll be cheering them on from the couch, while recovering and working towards new goals. Here are some photos from the week in Qatar. A highlight for all of us was riding with Eddy Merckx. When we did a few efforts as a team, he tucked in behind the team car, and motor paced at 60+km/h. Before and after the efforts we chatted as we rode. He’s kind and unassuming. On some level I could see he still had a youthful passion for cycling which hadn’t faded despite all the kilometres and races ridden. (The photos were taken by Nick Howes)