Team Sky put in an impressive team time trial performance at the Tour of Qatar to place second on stage two.
The eight-man squad were the penultimate team down the ramp and pushed hard on the exposed 14-kilometre course to clock one of the best ‘TTT’ performances in the team’s short history.
Six riders crossed the line in the desert with Team Sky setting the benchmark time out on the road with an effort of 16 minutes and 12 seconds.
The only team that could best that were BMC Racing, the Swiss-American outfit eventually coming home five seconds quicker to take the stage and extend the race lead of Brent Bookwalter.
The end result after two stages saw BMC riders fill out the top five on the overall leaderboard, with Bernhard Eisel the best-placed Team Sky rider in sixth, just 11 seconds down on the gold jersey of Bookwalter.
Edvald Boasson Hagen, Geraint Thomas, Mathew Hayman and Luke Rowe round out a close top-10 with four tough stages still remaining.
“It was a really good ride from the boys," said Sports Director Servais Knaven after the stage. "Of course second is not the nicest place to finish but we can be happy with the performance.
“We started really fast and we lost CJ [Sutton] and Gabba [Rasch] early on. But you have to make sacrifices when you go for the win. We had to make the difference somewhere, so we had a really fast start and then we were a bit slower over the second part than some teams. The end result was second.
“But it was a good day for us. It keeps us close to the front and the bonus seconds are really important in this race. All the options are still open to us so we need to formulate a plan and see what happens over the next few days. Edvald is still there and so are Bernie and Luke Rowe. They are all up in the top 10 of GC and we’re going to do our best to move up. It’s up to BMC now to control the race – they have to chase but we all need to be mindful of dangerous teams behind us. It will be a big fight.”
Tight at the top
The first team time trial of the year was eagerly-anticipated with a number of powerful teams lining up at the start on Al Rufaa Street.
At the organisers’ request the riders took to the course on road bikes due to logistical reasons, RadioShack-Leopard the first of the big teams to clock a time with 16:18.
That time would be bettered by Omega Pharma - Quick-Step who crept in one second quicker than their rivals, a performance that would see them place third on the leaderboard. The final place in the top five was taken by Katusha with little to separate the top teams.
Time bonuses on the remaining stages will play an all-important role with just 15 seconds separating the top 10 riders.
Tuesday’s stage three sees the riders tackle 143km from Al Wakra to Mesaieed.