Tour of Qatar: Garmin-Barracuda blitzes team time trial but Boonen clings to gold
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Monday, February 6, 2012

Tour of Qatar: Garmin-Barracuda blitzes team time trial but Boonen clings to gold

by Ben Atkins at 8:26 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour of Qatar
Belgian holds race lead by three-hundredths of a second after American team fastest in 11.3km Lusail test

garmin-barracudaGarmin-Barracuda blasted around the 11.3km stage two team time trial course, out and back from the Lusail Cycling Circuit, in a time of 12’38”. With Omega Pharma-Quick Step finishing a ever-so slightly less than seven seconds behind the American team however, it was not quite enough for Garmin-Barracuda’s sprinter Tyler Farrar to overhaul the Belgian team’s stage one winner Tom Boonen in the overall classification.

Boonen holds on to his lead over Farrar by three-hundredths of a second, with Farrar’s teammate Johan Vansummeren moving up to third place.

“The TTT is close to our hearts at Garmin-Barracuda and winning today, as a team, is really exciting,” said Farrar after it was confirmed that the American team had been fastest. “Its a great way to start off the year.”

For reasons of logistics, and so as to not penalise the lower budget Continental teams at the race, the stage was to be ridden on normal road bikes; although virtually all riders rode in time trial skinsuits, everybody wore standard helmets instead of aerodynamic time trial ones.

With the start order determined by the overall team classification after stage one, it was Continental team RTS Racing that was the first to set out from the start house; followed by Farnese Vini-Selle Italia, Bridgestone Anchor and Champion System.

It was not until Garmin-Barracuda set out though, that a really fast time was recorded; the American team crossed the intermediate time check at halfway in 6’19”, then completed the second half of the course in exactly the same time to hit the line in 12’38”.

Several teams came close to Garmin-Barracuda’s time, but Team Sky – the tenth team to set out, and still nursing a less-than fully fit Mark Cavendish – was the only one able to come within ten seconds. The British team stopped the clock in a time of 12’47”, nine seconds slower, and it appeared that team time trial specialist Garmin-Cervélo was headed for a repeat of its victory in the 2009 edition of the race.

Last team to set out though, with race leader Boonen, was Omega Pharma-Quick Step; while the Classic-heavy bias of the team means that it rarely excels in team time trials, the flat, crosswindy nature of the course – as well as its short length – meant that the strong men from Belgium had taken the equivalent stages in 2007 and 2008.

Sure enough, the Belgian team had matched Garmin-Barracuda’s time at halfway, and a possible upset was on the cards.

Where Garmin-Barracuda’s consistency had meant that it rode the second half of the course in the same speed as the first, Omega Pharma-Quick Step was beginning to slow. As the Belgians entered the finishing straight, the winning time was approaching and, with more than 100 metres to go, it passed, meaning that they were no longer fighting for the stage, but battling for Boonen’s gold jersey.

The former World champion had started the day just seven seconds ahead of Farrar, thanks to time bonuses on the first stage, and this was all the American needed to take the lead.

As the seconds ticked down, and the Omega Pharma-Quick Step riders sprinted for the line, the magic figure of 12’45” approached. The team’s fifth rider broke the line a fraction of a second before this though, to stop the clock 6.97 seconds behind Garmin-Cervélo.

Although there was a time difference of a fraction of a second, which is often taken into account when deciding overall time gaps in the event of a tie on time, race organiser ASO rounded the gap to seven seconds; it nevertheless ruled that Boonen still led Farrar in the overall classification, thanks to their relative positions in the stages so far.

In 2009, when the then Garmin-Transitions won the team time trial, it was not enough to prevent Boonen from winning the race overall for a third time. With the final result generally decided by a handful of seconds, it remains to be seen if the American team can stop the Belgian this time.

On a brighter note for Garmin-Barracuda, the result sees Ramunas Navardauskas take over the white, young rider’s jersey from the previous day’s second place finisher, Adam Blythe, as the British sprinter’s BMC Racing Team lost 16 seconds on the day.

Result stage 2
1. Garmin-Barracuda (USA) 11.3km in 11’38”
2. Omega Pharma-Quick Step (Bel) @ 7s
3. Team Sky (GBr) @ 9s
4. Katusha Team (Rus)
5. Liquigas-Cannondale (Ita) @ 13s
6. RadioShack-Nissan (Lux) @ 14s
7. GreenEDGE (Aus) @ 16s
8. BMC Racing Team (USA)
9. Lotto-Belisol (Bel) @ 17s
10. Rabobank (Ned)

Standings after stage 2
1. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
2. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Barracuda
3. Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin-Barracuda @ 3s
4. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Barracuda
5. Thomas Dekker (Ned) Garmin-Barracuda
6. Robert Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Barracuda
7. Davide Appollonio (Ita) Team Sky @ 10s
8. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
9. Gert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
10. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step


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