We give you your national champions

For the second National Road Race Championships taking place in Dukhan last weekend we returned to the course of the inaugural event without apology, as we find in Dukhan the most interesting and challenging terrain in Qatar. There are a couple of main climbs but these are coupled to frequent changes of direction, so riders making their attacks know that they won’t have to fight the wind for too long, but those using the wind to their advantage can split the pack and consolidate their gains. One change from last year was the loss of the Dukhan Water Sports Club as event HQ but the palm-lined main street of Dukhan town proved a more than fitting backdrop as the leaders swung through a series of roundabouts into the home straight. It’s a route with the capacity to discover worthy champions and so it proved.

Your 2020 National Road Race Champion is Marwan Al Jalham. Marwan (Rasen Adventure Shop) edging out Abdullah Al Khater (Qatar National Team) with Mubarak Alaji (Rasen Adventure Shop) taking bronze some nine minutes adrift of the leaders. Between them, the podium claimed 15,000 QAR worth of prizes provided by the event’s main sponsor, The Master’s Medical Centre.

As we have noted before, Marwan has undergone a transformation since his second place last year. Time under the coaching of Szymon Wasiak and a summer of mountain bike racing have produced a much stronger rider. It is only unfortunate that reigning champion Fawaz Al Shammri was unable to defend due to injury, as three or more Qataris at this level could really give spectators something to shout about.

The National Championships races are run along nationality and age group lines rather than the usual ability categories. This not only gives Qatari nationals their own race from which to derive motivation for their training but its the same for expats and older riders. Khalifa Al Khulaifi (Team Doha Cycling) is the Qatari Masters Champion and Nasser Mubarak (Q-Tri), second in the same race, is the Veterans Champion.

The Expat Championship also went with the form book with Moroccan Mouchine Rhaili’s win. The interesting factor in that race being the presence of Jonathan Parker. Jonathan as Paris-London team record holder is known as a formidable time trialist and he used that strength to pull the field apart. He is not known as a sprinter though and in other races he has paid the price of work on the front when it came to finishing. On this occasion, he was left with only Mouchine and Guillaume Soutter (Team Al Jassra) to beat and Jonathan had inflicted enough hurt and could acquit himself well enough in the sprint to get second place.

From the biggest field of the day of the expat masters/veterans it was again just two riders coming to the finish with a 1:15 gap. Frederick Feliciano (Rasen Adventure Shop) beat Enzo Fascintato (Los Gauchos) in that contest. Andrew Beer is Veteran Champion, beating all his rivals in the bunch sprint behind the two leaders.

No Qatari women took part this year which, with the growth in women’s cycling, is something in which we can hope and expect to see change over the next twelve months. With some of the regular expat protagonists out of action, there was a small field but one which opted to race against each other rather than be embedded into the master’s race. The strongest of these, former Olympian Pia Sundstedt, only faced opposition from Isora Sosa Caballero (Team Doha Cycling) but ultimately outclassed her on the run in to the finish. Sondra Hope claimed bronze in a sprint with Daniela Sposi (TriClub Doha) and Lisa Dunne (Team Al Jassra).

Results

National Championship

  1. Marwan Al Jalham (Rasen Adventure Shop) – 1:58:42
  2. Abdulla Al Khater (Qatar National Team) – +0:00
  3. Mubarak Alaji (Rasen Adventure Shop) – +9:07
  4. Abdulraman Al Jaber – +11:33
  5. Rabay Ghasab – +11:38

Expat Championship

  1. Mouchine Rhaili (Team Doha Cycling) MAR – 1:52:45
  2. Jonathan Parker GBR – +0:00
  3. Guillaume Soutter (Team Al Jassra) FRA – +0:02
  4. Bilal Al Saadi (Team Doha Cycling) SYR – +1:02
  5. Jamison Carino (Bike to Work Qatar) PHI – +1:02

Women

  1. Pia Sundstedt (Rasen Adventure Shop) FIN – 1:23:00
  2. Isora Sosa Caballero (Team Doha Cycling) ESP- +1:22
  3. Sondra Hope RSA – +9:53