Geert Steurs surprises in Tour of Qatar stage 2, favorites blow it
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Monday, February 8, 2010

Steurs surprises in Qatar, favorites blow it

by VeloNation Press at 9:27 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour of Qatar

One year after the tragic death of Belgian Frederick Nolf, his former Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator team took an emotional victory with Geert Steurs in today's stage two of the Tour of Qatar, with breakaway companion Wouter Mol (Vacansoleil) finishing in second place. Team Milram's Roger Kluge rounded out the day in third after attacking his chase group.

"My teammate died here [in Qatar] and it's an emotional victory for him [Nolf]," explained Steurs after the race. "I'm so happy that I can win the stage for him today."

Steurs and Mol attacked early in the 147 kilometer wind swept stage from the Camel Race Trak to the Qatar Foundation without expecting to stay clear, but behind the vengeful efforts of the Cervélo TestTeam after yesterday's one minute penalty splintered the peloton allowing the pair to ride clear.

Cervélo managed to rid themselves of yesterday's winners Team Sky, ending up with team leaders Heinrich Haussler and Roger Hammond as well as Jeremy Hunt in the front chase group. Four-time winner Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing), Danilo Napolitano (Katusha) and Roger Kluge (Milram) all survived the thrashing, making the cut with the Cervélo trio.

"After the situation from yesterday we didn't have to do anything," said Cervélo TestTeam Sports Director Jens Zemke. "But after 40 km, we had a strong side wind and we brought our riders to the front and bowed up the bunch. After that we were part of a group of twenty riders, six of whom were from TestTeam."

Fortune turned in favor of the two escapees, with the Qatari wind going from head to tail and carrying the duo to the finish. "The first 50k was strong wind," added Steurs. "Sometimes we rode at 30km per hour, but then it was a tailwind on the way back."

When their lead reached more than twenty minutes, Mol and Steurs knew they had a chance to pick up the win and the race lead and worked well together to the finish. The chase behind had broken into several groups with Team Sky and HTC-Columbia both missing out. On the finishing straight Steurs started the sprint early, but Mol refused to challenge his breakaway companion, the Dutchman content with taking the overall race lead for his Vacansoleil team.

"We got the jersey today and we're going to make something good of it," said Mol.

Nearly two minutes passed before Kluge crossed the line with a small gap over Haussler, followed by Gilbert, who took the sprint out of the front group. Tomorrow's stage will take the riders 136.5 kilometers from Dukhan to Mesaieed, where the desert winds are likely to again play a role in the stage.

Tour of Qatar Stage 2 Results:
1. Geert Steurs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) in 3h31'00 "
2. Wouter Mol (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team)
3. Roger Kluge (Team Milram) at 1'51 "
4. Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo Test Team) 1'54 "
5. Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) at 1'55 "
6. Roger Hammond (Cervélo Test Team)
7. Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
8. Jeremy Hunt (Cervélo Test Team)
9. Danilo Napolitano (Team Katusha)
10. Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing Team)

General Classification after Stage 2:
1. Wouter Mol (NED/VAC) 3:40:51
2. Geert Steurs (BEL/TSV) at 09sec
3. Roger Kluge (GER/MRM) at 2min 02sec
4. Tom Boonen (BEL/QST) 2:05
5. Marcus Burghardt (GER/BMC) 2:06
6. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/OLO) 2:18
7. Danilo Napolitano (ITA/KAT) 2:18
8. Stuart O'Grady (AUS/SAX) 2:40
9. Tyler Farrar (USA/GRM) 2:41
10. Marco Velo (ITA/QST) 2:47


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