Local hero Bassem Hassan Mohammed enjoyed a home victory in the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) final in Doha, Qatar.
Bassem took on the world’s best, but demonstrated nerves of steel to finished a full two seconds ahead of the competition.
Janika Sprunger (Bacardi VDL) took the runner-up spot, European champion Peder Fredricson (H&M Christian K) was third and Maikel van der Vleuten was fourth (VDL Groep Verdi Tn).
“It’s an amazing feeling; it’s come at the right moment,” said Bassem. “I’m so happy and so proud of this result today. Jan [Tops] is our trainer, we made the plan and it has really worked. So thank you to Jan and the Qatar Foundation, I’m so happy and so proud.”
Champion of Champions
The 15th and final leg of the LGCT at AL SHAQAB also saw Harrie Smolders crowned the 2017 Longines Global Champions Tour Champion. The Dutch rider had one down with Don VHP in the final Grand Prix, but his superb performance all season guaranteed him the title.
Lorenzo De Luca arrived in Doha in second position on the rankings leaderboard, but slipped to third after having four faults in the qualifier. Scott Brash (Ursula XII) and Christian Ahlmann (Taloubet Z) were also surprise casualties, going out in the first round.
Maikel van der Vleuten moved up to second place, Lorenzo was third, Christian fourth, Alberto Zorzi fifth and Scott – who won the championship in 2015 – came sixth.
Harrie also won the 2017 Global Champions League (GCL) as part of Hamburg Diamonds.
The team’s other key players this season include John Whitaker, Eric Lamaze, Audrey Coulter, Jos Verlooy and Piergiorgio Bucci who joined the team during the transfer period before Rome.
“After such a long season, I’m very thankful to do the double here,” said Harrie. “It’s very special, it will not be easy to match this season again in my career. Every time at the right moment I delivered and I must enjoy it right now.”
‘Ups and downs’
Valkenswaard United, who won the inaugural GCL last year, were second. They were represented by Bertram Allen (Molly Malone) and Alberto Zorzi (Fair Light van’t Heike) in the final leg, who both produced double clears to win the competition, but it wasn’t enough to defend the team’s title.
“We came here knowing we had to win here today, and unfortunately it wasn’t enough to win the league, but we gave it a good shot all year,” said Bertram. “We’ve had plenty of ups and downs, but at least we finished on a really great note.”