At the beginning of March, the season opener of the Longines Global Champions Tour takes place in Doha. The season opener in Doha will be the first out of fourteen events, kicking off the Tour’s sixteenth edition. Unfortunately, last year’s season got cancelled right after the opening due to the covid-19 pandemic. Both Nicola and Olivier are in for this season, individually and as a part of the London Knights.
A new spring traditionally announces a new Longines Global Champions Tour season. We can finally see the light at the end of a long tunnel, as the roll-out of vaccines against coronavirus around the world got started. However, as long as the pandemic is around, the measurements will remain. “I took off to Doha last Saturday and had to stay quarantined in the hotel room until I got my test results”, explains Olivier Philippaerts. “The next two weeks, I’ll be traveling up and down between the hotel and the equestrian center. Those are the only two places where we’re allowed to go at the moment. We get a new test every three days, on top of the other measurements taken here like wearing mouth masks, social distancing and washing hands with hand sanitizer.”
There are some other competitions in Doha before the Global Tour starts. Next Thursday, the first five start competiton of the season takes place. Afterwards, from March 4th-6th, the Longines Global Champions Tour starts. Unlike last year, Olivier went to Doha all alone, while Nicola is still in the States. “I’m looking forward to ride some competitions on this level again”, smiles Olivier. “It’s not just that they have the best riders participating, but also their organization is on point. Maybe even better now, during the pandemic, than before. The organizer does everything he has in his power to continue with the Champions League of our sport. That motivates and helps us to feel safe.”
Just like last year, Olivier and Nicola will ride both alone as well as the team competitions. Once again, they'll be part of the London Knightsfor the Longines Global Champions League, consisting of Ben Maher, Martin Fuchs, Cameron Hanley and Emily Moffitt. Last year, Olivier and Nicola won the team competition in Doha, “The team competitions are really enjoyable. For the first competition, I team up with Cameron Hanley. I’m only choosing if I'll ride it with Le Blue Diamond van het Ruytershof or H&M Legend of Love after the first competitions. The performances and my feeling afterwards will determine which one is in for the Global Champions League. In a highly regarded and persistent competition like this one, it’s important to be there, from the very first moment. The motivation is there, I’m eager to start!”, concludes Olivier.