Blowing away the cobwebs

The video’s from Stage 3 of the Tour of Qatar. Watch the first few minutes if you can but if you’re in a hurry, fast forward about one minute in. You can watch the rotation of the riders, the desert wind is blowing in from the left and the group is rolling at speed in the the echelon formation.

Whilst the terrain is dull, this was textbook demonstration of a group riding at speed in a crosswind. Watch how some riders are forced into the gutter and how many have to sprint just to hold their place once they reach the end of the line.

If you lose your place then you quickly discover the full force of the crosswind and even the strongest rouleur is likely to flounder, stuck until the next group collects them.

Hoe sterk is de eenzame fietser...

This kind of racing is more normally seen in the Belgian classics but that’s why Qatar is ideal for the riders to refresh the technique. Potholes aside, the Qatari roads lack the crazy street furniture seen in Belgium so this is a gentle introduction to the dangers encountered in places like De Panne and Koksijde which get sandblasted by a wind from the North Sea.

Thanks to Craig Brophy for pointing me in the direction of where I found the video.

Video: Versus
Photo: Koos Moerenhout