DOHA: Qatar National Team riders were at the forefront of the racing at the first road race in the Royal Air Maroc Cycling League that was held at Al Thakira Youth Centre last Friday.
It was keenly contested event in more ways than one with the first outing of the season attracted 120 riders. Despite the high temperatures and humidity forcing a short 65 Km route, the racing was fierce.
Competitive spirit was boosted by the emergence of new teams like Qatar Army and the adoption of Qatari Squad riders by established teams.
For the first time, local riders competed against each other and formed alliances with the strongest expat racers which is a positive development for the sport.
In A race, Abdullah Al Jaaidi (Qatar National Team) dominated.
Breaking clear of the field and finishing clear with a lead of two and a half minutes over Mouhcine Rhaili (National Coaches), in an average speed of just under 40 kph.
Unable to form an effective chase, Marwan Al Jalham (Rasen Adventure Shop) triumphed in the battle for the bronze medal against Chris Murrin (Velostar), Efram Ellenbogan (Team Al Jassra) and Bilal Al Saadi (National Team).
The B race was a springboard into the Senior Team for Qatar’s younger riders.
Nayef Al Messalam (Qatar National Team) kept his powder dry while the guapos of Los Gauchos made repeated strong moves to spit the field, and danger-men Fabian Escomel and Max Caparanga (Rasen) forged breakaways.
With just a few kilometers to go though, the bunch of 50 riders were all together and had slowed to cruising speed in anticipation of the finish but Al Messalam’s sprint proved strongest.
Sophie Clarke (Rasen) was first woman, ahead of Lisa Dunne (Team Al Jassra) with one of the favourites, Julie Melville (Rasen), out of contention after a puncture in the first lap.
Women’s riding has had a boost this year with rider initiatives to introduce new faces. Three TriClub Doha riders held their own in the C race field, finishing with the bunch and Sondra Hope claiming a top 20 placing to earn her first place in Women B Grade.
Friday’s winners will pull on the Scarlet Jersey as new leaders of the Royal Air Maroc League at the second race in Al Guwayriyah at the start of November.
1. Abdullah Al Jaaidi (Qatar National Team)
2. Mouhcine Rhaili (National Coaches)
3. Marwan Al Jalham (Rasen Adventure Shop)
1. Sophie Clarke (Rasen Adventure Shop)
2. Lisa Dunne (Team Al Jassra)
3. Julie Melville (Rasen Adventure Shop)
1. Nayef Al Mesallam (Qatar National Team)
2. David Jones (Velostar)
3. Jaco Anderson (Rasen Adventure Shop)
40+ Travis Pyle
50+ Jaco Anderson
1. Herminio Ruado (Team Bro)
2. Dale Goldie (Team Al Jassra)
3. Ramil Reyes
40+ Muhammed Maidin (#TeamFarhana)
50+ Andrew Faulkner (KontraPedal)
1. Qatar National Team
2. Qatar Army
3. Team Al Jassra