Tour of Qatar 2008: Marco Velo und Ralf Grabsch finish in the first group

Convincing performance by the MILRAM duo on the longest stage on the Persian Gulf

Dortmund, 31 January 2008.   The fifth stage of the Tour of Qatar (27.01.-01.02. / UCI 2.1) was again one for the sprinters around favorite  Tom Boonen.  Many riders tried their luck on the 170 kilometer longest stage between Al Khor Academy and Al Khor Corniche, causing an unsettled race.   But the peloton managed to hold things together until after 110 km a 42-rider strong group formed, among which were MILRAM’s Ralf Grabsch, Marco Velo and Alberto Ongarato.

Things were happening right from the beginning today.  There were constant attacks, and numerous small groups, who wanted to prevent another mass sprint finish, tried to get away,“ said MILRAM’s Ralf Grabsch.  „But the peloton didn’t let anyone really get away.  In the end I was in the big leading group with Marco Velo and Alberto Ongarato and we did  our share of the work.“

The day’s victory went to the Italian Danilo Napolitano of Team Lampre, who won the sprint out of the large leading group ahead of yesterday’s winner, Italian Albert Loddo (Tinkoff) and former World Champion Tom Boonen (Quick-Step) of Belgium.  The two MILRAM riders Marco Velo and Ralf Grabsch proved their improving form in the hotly-contested finale and finished 26th and 27th in the mass sprint.   Their teammate Alberto Ongarato came in 38 seconds later as 44th, while the rest of the field needed another 10 minutes to cross the finish line in Al Khor.  The finale was overshadowed by a crash involving the three Slipstream riders Magnus Backstedt, Julian Dean and Christopher Sutton.  MILRAM’s Christian Knees lost his contact to the leading group with a tire problem and finished the stage in the following group.

Overall leader continues to be the Belgian Tom Boonen, who after three stage wins takes a 17 second lead over his Dutch teammate Steven de Jongh into the final stage on Friday.  He is looking to win the leader’s golden jersey for the second time since 2006.

The sixth and final stage in Qatar runs on Friday over 120 km from Al Wakra to Doha Corniche.

Information and results for the Tour of Qatar can be found in Internet under http://www.letour.fr

The Stages 2008:

7.01. Stage 1: Doha – Doha, MZF (6 km)

28.01. Stage 2: Al Zubarah – Doha Golf Club (137,5 km)

29.01. Stage 3: Camel Race Track – Qatar Foundation (147,5 km)

30.01. Stage 4: Khalifa Stadium – Al Khor Corniche (131,5 km)

31.01. Stage 5: Al Khor Academy – Al Khor Corniche (170 km)

01.02. Stage 6: Al Wakra – Doha Corniche (120 km)

Total length:  712,5 km

The Team MILRAM line-up:

Volodymyr Diudia (UKR), Matej Jurco (SVK), Alberto Ongarato (ITA), Marco Velo (ITA), Ralf Grabsch (GER), Christian Knees (GER), Niki Terpstra (NED).

irecetur Sportif: Oscar Pellicioli (ITA).

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