Tour of Qatar 2014: stage one - five observations

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Racing

Tour of Qatar 2014: stage one – five observations

Flanders, twinned with Qatar, high times for Endura, and more


From Livingston to the Emirates

These are high times for a clothing brand from Livingston, Scotland. Endura has been sponsoring riders perhaps for longer than they or their early charges care to remember. It is a testament to the unwavering support of the brand’s founder and main man, Jim McFarlane, that a squad formed from an outfit described by its former general manager, Brian Smith, as “a Scottish club team” ended the opening day’s racing in Qatar with 23-year-old Irishman, Sam Bennett, ensconced in the white jersey of best young rider.

Sam Bennett continues the good work of NetApp-Endura. pic: Graham Watson/Bettini Photo

McFarlane’s firm bore all the costs of running the Tour of Britain-winning Endura Racing, a campaign that led to the squad’s merger the following season with Team NetApp and graduation to the Pro Continental tier. Three of Britain’s finest young talents – Erick Rowsell, Scott Thwaites, and Jonny McEvoy – recruited by Smith for Endura Racing, remain on the roster of a team now led by Vuelta a Espana stage winner, Leopold Konig.

Not content to be a co-sponsor of a team with a host of wildcard invitations to cycling’s biggest races in its jersey pocket, Endura has since pulled off the not inconsiderable coup of becoming clothing supplier to the world’s number one team, Movistar. When the Tour de France departs from Leeds on Saturday July 5, McFarlane, should he make the 235-mile journey south, will watch two teams roll out in his company’s clothing. British cycle sport has enjoyed so many success stories in recent years that some are in danger of becoming lost. Events in a Qatari desert may open another chapter.

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