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The opening race of the season for many of the Classics riders is the Tour of Qatar. The race through the desert is known for high wind, echelons, dust, crashes and sprints. Within the peloton there is an almost constant push for the front as every rider fights to be in the front of the group before it is sliced into echelons. Positioning is crucial when battling the wind as the peloton splits and unless the wind changes there is little change of regrouping. The roads are wide open, often fairly bumpy and are lined with cateyes, or reflectors, which can buck a rider off of his bike in a second if he’s not gripping his bars tightly. Sadly, my race came to an end with two days to go when the rider in front of me hit a cateye and lost control of his bike at over 60 km/h. I hit his bike, fell, and broke my femur and arm. My body was covered in scrapes and bruises. On the upside, the team performed well, the ambiance was good and we won two stages. As my teammates move on to the Classics I’ll be cheering them on from the couch, while recovering and working towards new goals. Here are some photos from the week in Qatar. A highlight for all of us was riding with Eddy Merckx. When we did a few efforts as a team, he tucked in behind the team car, and motor paced at 60+km/h. Before and after the efforts we chatted as we rode. He’s kind and unassuming. On some level I could see he still had a youthful passion for cycling which hadn’t faded despite all the kilometres and races ridden. (The photos were taken by Nick Howes)

15 thoughts on “The Desert Wind

  1. Such a shame about your injuries. I hope you recover quickly and are back on the bike soon. What a thrill to go riding and chatting with Eddy Merckx though! It’s a great photo of you two although it looks like Eddy is nursing some injuries of his own.

  2. Hope you have a speedy recovery. I’m currently stuck on the sofa with a broken fibula. I’ve got 2 weeks until the cast is removed. I enjoyed watching the cycling on the television. Being out of action gives you plenty of time to reflect and maybe even write your thoughts. You might have time to write a follow up to Le Metier. Good to see your pictures and blog. Hope you’re back on you bike soon and racing.
    All the best

    1. Hi Brad, Thanks. The fracture on the femur is small and stable so it should heal in about 4-6 weeks. Best, Michael

  3. I’m so sorry to hear that you sustained a fractured femur as well as a fractured arm. I hadn’t realised that it was as bad as that. Wishing you a speedy recovery, and many thanks for sharing the great photos. Liz Miller, Jersey, Channel Islands

  4. So sorry to hear of your crash! Writing about rehab isn’t nearly as fun as writing about racing, but I hope that you’ll write about rehab as well

  5. Michael,
    Hadn’t heard about the femur fracture, “just” the elbow needing surgery. So sorry to hear. I hope the recovery is going well, and that you’ll feel well enough to be back on the bike before too long. We’ll look forward to your return! Wishing you all the best…

  6. michael – we’re all selfishly upset about your crash because it means our favorite blogger anywhere has to sit out from training/racing and instead work to recover. i certainly admire the dedication and professionalism from the cyclist who stoicaly reports: ‘sadly, i fell and broke my femur and arm… on the upside the team performed well.’ get well soon, not for us though, and good luck with the rest of your season.

  7. Hope you recover soon.Thank you for keep writting. I’m enjoying so much your book “Inside the postal bus”.


  8. Michael,
    I am sorry about your injuries. I heard about you elbow fracture but not a broken femur. That’s serious stuff, did it myself in 2007 and it’s a lot of pain and tough recovery but recover you will. wish you all the best, keep writing


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