Tour of Qatar. Stage 4. Cavendish the best.
Cavendish out-sprinted race leader Tom Boonen to take the 141km stage and secure his first win of the 2009 season.
It is the third win for an English rider during current Qatar campain.
The Colombia rider battled strong winds, plentiful crashes and a fast pace, and looked to have fallen out of contention in the closing stages before fighting back for the victory. The Tour continues with the 147km stage starting from the Camel Race Track on Thursday.
Boonen opened up the sprint and Cavendish immediately took his wheel. As both riders drifted towards the right hand side of the road under the heavy winds from the left, Cavendish almost hit the curb. Boonen immediately sat up after that, realising that he started the sprint too early.
Team Katusha rider Filippo Pozzato came only 4th to mark the first race without podium for his team.
Boonen remains in the leader’s jersey thanks to his consistency and win in yesterday’s stage three. He leads in what is a three-way fight over two Cervélo riders: Hammond at 10 seconds and Haussler at 12 seconds back.
The sprint was as confusing for Cavendish as trying to find his team afterwards. “I don’t know where my trainers are,” he kept repeating, looking around for them. “I need to get cleaned up!” Finally Erik Zabel came to the rescue with a jacket for the Columbia sprinter.
Milram’s Robert Förtser sprinted to fifth, which made Christian Henn, Milram’s directeur sportif, happy. “We had some plans for this stage and were able to implement them. We were very active and always represented in the right groups. Unfortunately we also got caught up in the many crashes, so that at the end, Robert Förster was alone.”
right-hand turn at kilometre 112 signaled the finale and split the peloton. Winds off the sea, on the rider’s left, forced the riders into several smaller echelon formations.
Cervélo dominated the front group with key sprinter Boonen for company. Cavendish remained calm in the second echelon with his Columbia teammates working.
Many riders were forced off the road in the fight for space throughout the day. In the final 25 kilometres, Vicente Reynes (Columbia-High Road) and Murilo Fischer (Liquigas) lost control when edged onto the rocky shoulder. They both finished the race, but doctors took the latter to the hospital for further examination.
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia-Highroad 4.04.55 (34.54 km/h) 2 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervélo TestTeam 3 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 4 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha 5 Robert Förster (Ger) Team Milram 6 Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam 7 Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Slipstream 8 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Lampre - N.G.C. 9 Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil-Shimano 10 Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam