Tour of Qatar: Fourth stage win for Mark Cavendish secures final overall victory
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Friday, February 08, 2013

Tour of Qatar: Fourth stage win for Mark Cavendish secures final overall victory

by Ben Atkins at 8:14 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour of Qatar
 
Manx Missile continues Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s domination of the desert race

mark cavendish

Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) stepped into the shoes of his new, absent teammate Tom Boonen with an emphatic overall victory in the 2013 Tour of Qatar. The Manx Missile took his fourth straight victory of the race - emulating Boonen’s 2006 and 2007 tallies - with an emphatic sprint in the final stage between the Sealine Beach Resort and the Doha Corniche.

The former World champion was pushed close by Belarus champion Yauheni Hutarovich (AG2R La Mondiale), however, but crossed the line almost half a length clear. Taking his third podium place of the race, 21-year-old Dutchman Markus Barry (Vacansoleil-DCM) was third.

“It was kind of like Al Khor, actually," Cavendish said afterwards, comparing the conditions in the final sprint to those on stage 4. "I knew the wind was coming from the right, knew a gap was coming from the left. Same as when I won in 2009. The same tactics. The guys were going, and going, and going.  Other teams started winding up with four laps to go. Still, it ended up the same way with one lap to go. It's a bit safer into the last lap and everyone's happy.

“The guys had been a bit used up for working for me all day and the entire race,” he added, “so I knew I can kind of just go alone, can leave it late and come up the left side again. That's exactly what I did. I knew they would go right, and I could just use other lead outs to move up in the last 300 metres and jump on the left hand side.”

Although Cavendish’s victory looked as straightforward as his previous three, a crash in the first eight kilometres of the stage - which also brought down stage one winner Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) - meant that he was a little less than perfect as he arrived at the finish.

“I tweeted this morning that I've won and crashed this stage before — the previous one — and the fact is I did both again,” he laughed. “I was just going along after 15km, came to a roundabout not going hard, just riding. I was riding on someone's wheel and he just went down.

“He doesn't even know what happened. But, that's bike racing,” he said. “It was a freak accident. I'm a bit banged up, but I'm OK. I am just kind of twisted, but we'll get it sorted.”

Time bonuses on the line for Cavendish increased his 15 second lead over Bookwalter to a comfortable 25 seconds at the finish, with the American’s teammate and compatriot Taylor Phinney taking third place, another second behind.

“I'm over the moon,” Cavendish said. “We come here every year almost guaranteed an overall victory with Tom Boonen, but he's recovering from an injury. So it put a little bit of pressure on me and I was a bit nervous. But I'm really happy to get the win. The guys worked incredible here. They really looked after me so, so well here and delivered every single day. I am so happy and proud I can bring it home again for the team again.

“We've won Tour of Qatar six times, and I don't know how many stages,” he concluded, “so I am happy to be a part of that.”

The 116km stage, which finished with ten laps of a 6km circuit around the Doha Corniche saw the peloton stay together for virtually its entire length. There was a battle between Team Sky and BMC Racing over the podium places and, as the finish drew near, there was a battle between the various sprint trains in the peloton, but - having found a gap in the mêlée in front of him - Cavendish was unbeatable once again.

Sky and BMC do battle but nobody escapes

The early part of the stage saw Team Sky go on the offensive to try to lift Austrian Bernhard Eisel onto the podium, but the British team met fierce resistance from BMC Racing, who sat second and third through Brent Bookwalter and Taylor Phinney.

Despite a fast lead out from Team Sky, it was Phinney that took first place - and three bonus seconds - at the first intermediate sprint in Al Wakra after 38km, ahead of Eisel and Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Guillaume Van Keirsbulck. The American had cut his deficit to Cavendish to 17 seconds, but the Manxman’s lead was still - barring catastrophe - comfortable. More importantly, however, Phinney was increasing his advantage over Eisel, and securing his place on the final podium.

Shortly before second sprint, which came at the end of the third lap of the finishing circuit, it was BMC Racing that had the upper hand again, as Steve Cummings (BMC Racing) attacked off the front of the peloton. Team Sky chased the British rider down but, just as they had done, BMC Racing took control at the front, with Greg Van Avermaet, Adam Blythe and Phinney taking the time bonuses.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step took control of the peloton onto the closing laps, keeping the race together, although the pace was not so high as to string the peloton out too much. Cavendish was sitting comfortably behind his teammates, but the other sprinters were getting organised with their own lead out trains around him.

The sprinters’ teams line themselves up for the finish and battle for the front

With two laps to go the sprint trains from Astana, NetApp-Endura and Vacansoleil-DCM all swarmed forward alongside Omega Pharma-Quick Step, but the Belgian team asserted itself by accelerating ahead once more. Vacansoleil-DCM was not to be denied, however, and the two teams raced alongside one another for a few kilometres as they tried to move ahead.

With nine kilometres to go though, it was Astana that took over at the head of the peloton, bringing Andrea Guardini forward, but Vacansoleil-DCM son took over again. Omega Pharma-Quick Step came ahead again at the bell, alongside Katusha, but on the opposite side of the road Argos-Shimano was starting its own rival train.

Cavendish’s team now began to lift the pace, and the peloton began to string out behind it; Cannondale sprinted ahead of the Belgian team, however, with the whole green team lined up in front. NetApp-Endura then joined in with the green train, with the pace lifted even higher, but then Team Sky took over with three kilometres to go.

The British team was determined to hold the lead, but Argos-Shimano managed to accelerate past around the final roundabout and led past the flamme rouge. Astana hit the front, however, but it was FDJ that began its lead out first, with French champion Nacer Bouhanni led forward. Guardini tried to open up on the right side of the road, but Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) went early down the middle; the Norwegian champion faded quickly though, as the others swarmed around him.

Phinney powered down the middle of the road, but Cavendish suddenly found a gap; with Hutarovich on his wheel, the Manxman powered through on the left side of the road to take the stage.

Result stage 6
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
2. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) AG2R La Mondiale
3. Barry Markus (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
4. Adam Blythe (GBr) BMC Racing Team
5. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team
6. Kenny van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
7. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha Team
8. Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky
9. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ
10. Guillaume Boivin (Can) Cannondale

Final overall standings
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
2. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team @ 25s
3. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team @ 26s
4. Adam Blythe (GBr) BMC Racing Team @ 30s
5. Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky @ 32s
6. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team @ 32s
7. Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team @ 35s
8. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky @ 39s
9. Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky @ 40s
10. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky

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