Kristoff (KAT) claims GC lead after crazy second day in Qatar, above 48kph average. Rojas, Valverde dropped back after echelons, conceed golden jersey
Almost one hour ahead of the original schedule proposed by the organisers, Norwegian Alexandr Kristoff (KAT) claimed victory in Al Khor and surged towards race leadership in the 14th of Qatar, after a hectic pace saw the riders cover 187km at 48.9kph average. The mixture of tail and crosswinds, joined by sandstorms hitting the bunch from the very start, turned the race into a real battle, with three huge echelon attempts breaking the big group into several pelotons.
Despite getting into the first two escapes, José Joaquín Rojas, supported until the end by Alejandro Valverde -who struggled in the early stages-, couldn't save himself from getting dropped back in the third one, losing the golden jersey he earned with his brilliant victory on Sunday. The two Spaniards crossed the finishing line just over 3' after the reduced elite group, which takes them into the middle of the standings. The GC should start to get decided tomorrow with the 10km ITT around the Lusail Circuit.