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#PelotonShorts: Doha’s Pearl Island

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The skyscrapers of Doha (seen here in the 2014 Tour of Qatar) will be the backdrop to the final and most prestigious event in the 2016 UCI world road championships (#UCIDoha2016)—this Sunday’s elite men’s road race. The final 120 kilometers of the 257.3-kilometer event will be played out on The Pearl, an artificial island in the Persian Gulf that has been developed at a cost of some $15 billion.

#PelotonShorts by John Wilcockson/Photo by Yuzuru Sunada

The finish circuit is 15.2 kilometers around and features no less than two-dozen roundabouts and half-a-dozen 180-degree turns. Whoever is left racing after the six hours in the Gulf heat will pay particular attention to the final run-in to the finish: a dead turn with 3.5 kilometers to go; a sharp left turn at 3 kilometers, shortly followed by a large roundabout; a sharp left turn at 1.5 kilometers; and a double-right turn entering the final kilometer. The curving, slightly uphill finish straightaway is the same as the one we’ve seen in all the events this past week.

If rider performances in the annual Tour of Qatar mean anything, the new world champion will be Belgium’s Tom Boonen, who has taken 22 stage wins in the early-season stage race, followed by Great Britain’s Mark Cavendish with 9 stage wins and Norway’s Alexander Kristoff with six stages. The other sprinters expected to challenging for medals on Sunday include Frenchmen Nacer Bouhanni and Arnaud Démare, Germany’s André Greipel, Italy’s Elia Viviani, Australia’s Michael Matthews and Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria—the brilliant winner last Sunday of the Paris–Tours classic over a similar distance.

Follow @pelotonmagazine for more #pelotonshorts from John Wilcockson.
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