It ain’t half hot mum

The Tour of Qatar may have started as a thinly veiled vanity project to market the sovereign state as something other than a major oil producer.

Eddy Merckx’s involvement and its timing as a season opener drop heavier hints as to how the pro peleton use the stage race. The facts are that the tour has produced 75% of the Paris Roubaix winners since its inception 12 years ago. Putting the tour winners name on your betting slip prediction for Paris Roubaix might not be seen as speculative.

It’s the high winds on the Arabian peninsula that mimic the conditions of north eastern France that make the Tour Qatar ideal preparation for Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara and perennial contenders like Juan Antonio Flecha.

It’s no surprise that superman of the supermen elect Boonen has won the tour 4 times, most recently in 2011. Boonen though will be absent this year, recovering from surgery following a bizarre training accident. Mark Cavendish replaces him as team leader. Cavendish may well harbour ambitions for Milan San Remo, but he is unlikely to appear with anything other than long odds as a bet for Paris Roubaix.

I’ve linked to an article by Gregor Brown on about how classic’s riders use the Tours of Qatar and Oman to prepare for the season.

Preview: Classics masters head to Qatar this weekend to lay a foundation for the cobbles. From @gregorbrown in Doha.

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