1st Tour of Qatar - 2.3

Qatar, January 21-25, 2002

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First 'Tour Of Qatar' gets underway

By Denis Descamps in Doha
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Photo: © Denis Descamps

The inaugural Tour of Qatar gets underway in Doha on Monday and the five-day cycling extravaganza has attracted some of the world's finest international riders.

The event is being organised by the Amaury Sports Organisation (the organisers of the Tour de France) and is the brainchild of His Excellency Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar and the President of the Qatar Cycling Federation, Sheikh Khalid Bin Al-Thani, the Secretary General of the Qatar Olympic Committee and Brig Dahlan Al-Hamad. They worked to include a new event in the UCI calendar and the Tour of Qatar was born.

With the development taking place in international professional cycling, it is becoming clear that the sport in no longer an exclusively European discipline. At the start of the season, the leading teams are keen to find races and events in warmer climes where they are better able to prepare for the forthcoming UCI season.

The Australian Tour Down Under finished with a victory for the young Aussie Michael Rogers and the Malaysian Tour of Langkawi in February has attracted a number of the Division I teams. The Tour of Qatar is another example of such an event and has been able to attract a top rate entry.

Supported by the expertise of the Sociètè du Tour de France (ASO), a number of the contacts of veteran Belgian cycling champion Eddy Merckx and the full support of the State of Qatar, a first class route has been created in the 2.3 category.

The first stage takes place around the capital of Doha and will see several champions in action, including the likes of Jan Ullrich (Deutsche Telekom), twice former World Champion against the clock, Sydney Olympics road racing champion and winner of the 1997 Tour and Laurent Jalabert (CSC), former world number one and the hero of the Grand Boucle last summer. Also riding will be Johan Museeuw (Domo), Paris-Roubaix specialist and former winner of the World Cup and Franck Vandenbroucke, who has entered the Tour of Qatar to prove he has lost none of his talent.

Behind the leading contingent, there are several more top competitors, such as Svorada, Sciandri (Lampe-Daikin), Bortolami (Tacconi), Rous, Nazon (Bonjour), Heulot (Bigmat-Auber), Robin, Durand (La Francaise des Jeux), Barthe and Rinero (Saint-Quentin). One of the latest Francaise des Jeux recruits is the 20 year-old London rider Bradley Wiggins, who has been tipped for a great future in professional cycling.

The race is very open and has permitted a number of journalists to visit a country which is little known in most of Europe. Qatar, which is planning to host the 2006 Asian Games, is one of the most forward-thinking nations in terms of sport at the present time, with a tennis tournament on the ATP Tour, a golf tournament on the European PGA Tour and a number of international motor sport events. Besides, the government is intent on setting up a Formula One Grand Prix circuit and building quickly on its sporting successes to date.

On Monday, Tour of Qatar action gets underway from the foot of the Khalifa Stadium in Doha at 13.00, with the race set to end with the fifth and final stage on Friday, January 25th in Doha.

Qatar - technical data

Qatar (11,430 square kilometres) is a peninsula, 160 kilometres long and between 60 and 80 kilometres wide. It lies on a limestone base and the annual rainfall, aside from irregular weather patterns, never exceeds 70 mm. Before the discovery of hydrocarbons, Qatar lived off the sea, principally through fishing and specifically the pearl industry.

Independent since September 3rd, 1971, the state has organised its development around an ambitious programme of industrialisation based upon petroleum and natural gas reserves. The petroleum reserves are restricted to only 22 million tonnes per annum, but the presence in the north of a massive underwater North Field natural gas reserve is now considered to be one of the most important in the world and has enabled Qatar to look at new projects.

An estimated 4 million tonnes of liquified gas were exported to the Japanese market in 1997 and Qatar is now involved in a number of important petrochemical activities (ethylene, polyethylene) and is looking at setting up an aluminium industry.

The wealth created by the hydrocarbons have radically transformed the economy and has changed the composition of the population, with the influx of foreigners, the majority being Asian, and the birth of a number of modern designed towns, taking into account the respect for local traditions. Between 1965 and 1997 the population has risen from 62,500 to 600,000 people, 90% of whom live in urban areas, notably in the capital Doha, where half are based.

The Stages

Start List

Team Deutsche Telekom               Domo-Farm Frites
1 Jan Ullrich (Ger)                 11 Johan Museeuw (Bel)
2 Gian Matteo Fagnini (Ita)         12 Enrico Cassani (Ita)
3 Ralf Grabsch (Ger)                13 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel)
4 Giuseppe Guerini (Ita)            14 Steve De Wolf (Bel)
5 Torsten Hiekmann (Ger)            15 Leif Hoste (Bel)
6 Matthias Kessler (Ger)            16 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz)
7 Kevin Livingston (USA)            17 Franck Vandenbroucke (Bel)
8 Stefan Schumacher (Ger)           18 Piotr Wadecki (Pol)
Lampre-Daikin                       Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola
21 Maximilian Sciandri (GBr)        31 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita)
22 Alessandro Cortinovis (Ita)      32 Paolo Bossoni (Ita)
23 Alberto Loddo (Ita)              33 Lorenzo Di Silvestro (Ita)
24 Luciano Pagliarini Mendonca (Bra)34 Diego Ferrari (Ita)
25 Mariano Piccoli (Ita)            35 Mauro Gerosa (Ita)
26 Manuel Quinziato (Ita)           36 Nicola Minali (Ita)
27 Milan Kadlec (Cze)               37 Mauro Radaelli (Ita)
28 Johan Verstrepen (Bel)           38 Gianluca Sironi (Ita)
CSC Tiscali                         Team Coast
41 Laurent Jalabert (Fra)           51 André Korff (Ger)
42 Olivier Asmaker (Fra)            52 Stefan Adamsson (Swe)
43 Michaël Blaudzun (Den)           53 Bekim Christensen (Den)
44 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa)       54 Sacha Henrix (Ger)
45 Eriksen Bruun (Den)              55 Christoph Kleinsorgen (Ger)
46 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra)           56 Steffen Radochla (Ger)
47 Martin Rittsel (Swe)             57 Malte Urban (Ger)
48 Nicki Sorensen (Den)             58 Thorsten Wilhelms (Ger)
Bonjour                             Acqua e Sapone-Cantina Tollo
61 Didier Rous (Fra)                71 Gabriele Colombo (Ita)
62 Walter Beneteau (Fra)            72 Claudio Astolfi (Ita)
63 Pascal Derame (Fra)              73 Daniele Bennati (Ita)
64 Sébastien Joly (Fra)             74 Cesare Di Cintio (Ita)
65 Damien Nazon (Fra)               75 Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spa)
66 Franck Renier (Fra)              76 Simone Masciarelli (Ita)
67 Fabrice Salanson (Fra)           77 Michele Scarponi (Ita)
68 Emmanuel Magnien (Fra)           78 Guido Trenti (USA)
La Francaise Des Jeux               Alexia Alluminio
81 Jean-Cyril Robin (Fra)           91 Ivan Quaranta (Ita)
82 Sandy Casar (Fra)                92 Dario Andriotto (Ita)
83 Jimmy Casper (Fra)               93 Luca Barattero (Ita)
84 Nicolas Fritsch (Fra)            94 Fabiano Ferrari (Ita)
85 Christophe Mengin (Fra)          95 Alessandro Guerra (Ita)
86 Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra)         96 Mario Manzoni (Ita)
87 Franck Perque (Fra)              97 Sebastiano Scotti (Ita)
88 Bradley Wiggins (GBr)            98 Corrado Serina (Ita)
Bigmat.Auber 93                     Bankgiroloterij-Batavus
101 Christophe Capelle (Fra)        111 Bart Voskamp (Ned)
102 Guillaume Auger (Fra)           112 Bert Hiemstra (Ned)
103 Félix Garcia Casas (Spa)        113 Rudi Kemna (Ned)
104 Thierry Gouvenou (Fra)          114 Vincent Van Der Kooy (Ned)
105 Stéphane Heulot (Fra)           115 Gerben Lowik (Ned)
106 Jeremy Hunt (GBr)               116 Rik Reinerink (Ned)
107 Benjamin Levecot (Fra)          117 Bram Schmitz (Ned)
108 Nicolas Liboreau (Fra)          118 Jan Van Velzen (Ned)
Team Fakta                          Team Colpack-Astro
121 Magnus Backstedt (Swe)          131 Michele Colleoni (Ita)
122 Allan Johansen (Den)            132 Giosuè Bonomi (Ita)
123 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor)         133 Matteo Gigli (Ita)
124 Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe)         134 Leonardo Giordani (Ita)
125 Manu L'hoir (Bel)               135 Denis Lunghi (Ita)
126 Roberto Lochowski (Ger)         136 Miguel Angel Meza (Mex)
127 Michael Skelde (Den)            137 Rafael Nuritdinov (Uzb)
128 Allan Bo Andresen (Den)         138 Vladimir Smirnov (Ltu)
St Quentin-Oktos
141 Stéphane Barthe (Fra)
142 Alexandre Chouffe (Fra)
143 Frédéric Gabriel (Fra)
144 Sergei Krushevskiy (Uzb)
145 Jean Nuttli (Swi)
146 Roman Peter (Swi)
147 Arnaud Pretot (Fra)
148 Christophe Rinero (Fra)