Tour of Qatar Stage 6: OPQS Conquers the Desert
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team had plenty to celebrate at the end of Tour of Qatar on Friday. Following a 4th place bunch sprint finish by Tom Boonen in the points jersey, Niki Terpstra took the top podium spot for the 6th and final time as overall winner of the race, with Boonen right behind him in 2nd.
OPQS also won the team classification as five riders finished in the top 10 of the overall. Last but not least, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck won the White Pearl Jersey for best young rider.
OPQS finished off the job of a successful Tour of Qatar, as the team won three stages out of six with Tom Boonen (2) and Niki Terpstra. The team also held onto all of the jerseys and team classification lead consistently.
"Finally I made it," Terpstra said. "I'm very happy about this victory because it was stressful for me. The last few days maybe a little bit less so, but with the wind in the desert it was a bit difficult. I was so happy today when I crossed the line. To me, it's important because it's the first time in my career that I won a short stage race. I was already on the podium of Eneco Tour, Three Days of De Panne, and other races. But, this is quite a new experience. I learned a lot this week. After my Stage 1 victory, for the rest I had to follow the guys. They stayed as calm as possible and I really counted on a great team here. Everybody was at a top level and you can see it in the final classifications results with the whole team. The general classification, the jerseys, and even our results each stage. We were really a factor throughout the race. My form is actually good, but not at the top yet. April is still far away and that is where I have to be in top condition to support Tom, who is our leader for the Classics. Concerning the rest of the program, I will go to Oman. It is a bit of a different race, but I will try to take advantage of this condition and pay back my teammates for their performance here by supporting the team there."
Van Keirsbulck had a bonus to his victory as best young rider. He won the White Pearl Jersey also on his birthday.
"For me this is a very special day," Van Keirsbulck said. "To win this jersey means a lot to me, and it's the best birthday present. I did a lot of training in Argentina and I'm really happy it paid off. Also, you could see we had a very strong team. Everybody was ready to make this Tour of Qatar a great collective performance. I'm really happy with my work for the team at Tour of Qatar, and I only hope I can continue on this level for the next races. I'm really looking forward to it."
Sport Director Wilfried Peeters said the performance represented the strength of the whole team.
"Things went perfectly for the team this week," Peeters said. "We won three stages as well as the GC, we had Boonen in second overall, and we won all the jerseys and the team classification. We were always present no matter the situation. We have a tradition of success at Tour of Qatar. It's a race known for strong winds, and as a Belgian based team, that is when we are in our element. Now we will try to carry the momentum from this race. From tomorrow forward we will work hard to keep this high level. We will try to be competitive also when we come back to Europe with this group."