Tour of Qatar: Mark Cavendish extends race lead with stage five victory
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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tour of Qatar: Mark Cavendish extends race lead with stage five victory

by Ben Atkins at 7:52 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour of Qatar
Third straight win for Manx Missile as Taylor Phinney goes on the attack

 Mark CavendishMark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) extended his overall race lead in the 2013 Tour of Qatar, with his third straight victory in the fifth stage, between Al Zubara Fort and Madinat Al Shamal. The Manx Missile was delivered to the line by Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammate, Netherlands champion Niki Terpstra, but his victory was far from sure until he hit the line as Belarus champion Yauheni Hutarovich (AG2R La Mondiale) almost managed to come past in the final metres.

Hutarovich was just unable to overcome Cavendish, however, and the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider took the victory by a little less than the diameter of his front wheel. Following two straight second places, behind Cavendish, on the two previous stages, Lithuanian Aidis Kruopis (Orica-GreenEdge) was third.

Cavendish had a scare in the closing stages of the race, as late attack from Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) and Bernhard Eisel (Team Sky) threatened his overall lead. Terpstra was there to police the break, however, which only managed to get 30 seconds clear with 25km still to go, and the rest of the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team closed it down with 14km to go.

From there the pace was kept high by the sprinters’ teams, with Cavendish taking a close victory on the line. Ten seconds bonus for the victory, as well as three picked up at an intermediate sprint, meant that the Manxman’s slim, two second lead over stage one winner Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) was extended to 15 seconds with one stage to go.

"The team did this after riding for me the whole day," Cavendish said of the work done by his teammates. "The last two days of course we wanted the big commitment, but we really got out the unit today. We just rode incredible as a unit.

"Even mild winds here on this circuit causes some problems," he explained. "We knew it would be stressful today. It caused a few splits but we always had five or six guys riding for me. The protection was spot on. As for my spot in the final, we really kept together. Some other teams tried to take over — I think they got some confidence in the last few days. But my entire team came to me in the last minute and we just went."

Light winds but several breakaways and a shattered peloton regardless

In the lighter-than-usual winds, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) tried to break away alone after just 21km; once he was caught Eisel and Phinney tried for the first time, but they too were reeled in by the speeding peloton. After 64km, however, a group of five riders did get clear, as Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling), Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil-DCM), Pengda Jiao (Champion System), Andrea Di Corrado (Bardiani-CSF Inox) and Kohei Uchima (Japanese National Team) escaped.

The group’s lead reached a maximum of 2’50”, with Elmiger taking first place at the intermediate sprint, as the race crossed the finish line for the first time after 114.5km. The peloton, which was shattering and reforming under the impetus of the stronger teams, reeled them in, however.

Cavendish took first place over the finish line to take the second intermediate sprint, ahead of Eisel, but shortly afterwards the Austrian jumped away with Phinney. Terpstra latched onto the back to mark the move, to police the two riders and try to prevent them from building too big a lead. Omega Pharma-Quick Step was chasing hard, with Cavendish tucked in behind them and, with Terpstra doing nothing to help the breakaway, they were back in the fold with 14km to go.

Saxo Bank and Cannondale joined Omega Pharma-Quick Step at the head of the peloton, to prevent any further escapes, with Astana bringing Andrea Guardini forward, and Argos-Shimano bringing up John Degenkolb.

BMC Racing then took over the lead, with Adam Blythe tucked in behind them, as Phinney pulled the peloton into the headwind in the final six kilometres; the pace then dropped off as the sprinters’ teams tried to avoid burning themselves out too soon.

With four to go though, Omega Pharma-Quick Step began to wind the pace up again, with the entire team lined up on front. Orica-GreenEdge was not to be moved, however, and the Australian team moved ahead of the Belgians inside the final two kilometres.

Team Sky moved up into the final kilometre, but Omega Pharma-Quick Step pushed up to the front again and strung the peloton out into one long line. Terpstra took off with Cavendish on his wheel, and the Manxman opened up his sprint with 300 metres to go.

The Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider appeared to have gone a little early, and Hutarovich began to move up alongside him, but the line arrived just in time for Cavendish and he held off the Belarusian champion by less than a wheel.

"We knew if we got through today it would be easy tomorrow," Cavendish said of the GC lead. "Also, it's [team owner] Zdeněk Bakala's birthday today. What's better than you getting a victory from the team? It's a great birthday gift for him I think."

Result stage 5
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
2. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) AG2R La Mondiale
3. Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) Orica-GreenEdge
4. Adam Blythe (GBr) BMC Racing Team
5. Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky
6. John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos-Shimano
7. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha Team
8. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ
9. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
10. Roger Kluge (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura

Standings after stage 5
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
2. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team @ 15s
3. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team @ 20s
4. Adam Blythe (GBr) BMC Racing Team @ 22s
5. Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky @ 24s
6. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team @ 25s
7. Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
8. Mathew Hayman (Aus) Team Sky @ 27s
9. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky @ 29s
10. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky @ 30s


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