Chicchi leaves others standing on Qatar’s fourth stage
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chicchi leaves others standing on Qatar’s fourth stage

by Conal Andrews at 9:34 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Italian rider Francesco Chicchi blasted to victory on today’s fourth stage of the Tour of Qatar, unleashing a strong sprint on the Al Khor Corniche and pulling clear of the rest of the bunch.

The Liquigas competitor was sitting fourth in line heading into the final 500 metres and had little problems in covering an acceleration by former world track champion Theo Boss (Cervélo).

Chicchi blasted by and immediately opened a gap; Boss’ team-mate Heinrich Haussler threaded his way through a small gap to pass Juan José Haedo (Saxo Bank) but still finished a length behind.

The victor gestured to a black armband after the finish, presumably dedicating the victory to the former Italian national coach Franco Ballerini, who died at the weekend in a rally car accident.

Multiple Tour of Qatar winner Tom Boonen and his Quick Step team were hoping for strong crosswinds on today’s 146 kilometre stage, as it would give them an opportunity to try to break things up and help Boonen get back some of his one minute 55 second deficit to Wouter Mol (Vacansoleil).

However the climatic conditions were calm and the peloton stayed largely together. Three riders – namely Martin Kohler (BMC), Jesse Sergent (Trek Livestrong) and Sep Vanmarcke (Topsport Vlaanderen) – did get clear and stayed out front for much of the stage, but the big main bunch hauled them back with just under 15 kilometres to go.

The sprinters’ teams then controlled the peloton to ensure that no other breakaways would stand a chance.

Boonen didn’t contest the sprint and, with just two days racing left, must be now starting to question if he can win another edition of the race. Even if Mol is distanced, he also has to make up a one minute 40 second deficit to Geert Steurs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator), who won on Monday and who is sitting second overall.

American rider Taylor Phinney uncorked another good sprint to net eighth, following up on his seventh place from yesterday. The Trek-Livestrong rider said afterwards on his Twitter feed that he was trying to prove a point. “Field sprint again...stayed up there for 8th!! Had to prove yesterday was no fluke.”

Compatriot Tyler Farrer punctured in the closing stages and was unable to get back into a good position before the final sprint.

The race continues tomorrow with at 142 kilometre stage from Lusail to Madinat Al Shamal.

===

Tour of Qatar, stage four (The Pearl-Al Khor Corniche)

1, Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Liquigas 146.5 kilometres in 3 hours 16 mins 58 secs
2, Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervélo
3, Juan José Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank
4, Theo Bos (Ned) Cervélo
5, Kenny de Haes (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
6, Roger Kluge (Ger) Milram
7, Kristof Goddaert (Bel) Ag2r
8, Taylor Phinney (USA) Trek-Livestrong
9, Daniele Napolitano (Ita) Katusha
10, Baden Cooke (Aus) Saxo Bank, all same time


General Classification after four stages:

1, Wouter Mol (Ned) Vacansoleil, 9 hours 59 mins 28 secs
2, Geert Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator, at 15 secs
3, Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step, at 1 min 55 secs
4, Roger Kluge (Ger) Milram, at 1 min 59 secs
5, Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Katusha, at 2 mins 15 secs
6, Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto, at 2 mins 17 secs
7, Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team, at 2 mins 21 secs
8 , Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervélo TestTeam, at 2 mins 37 secs
9, Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo, at 2 mins 38 secs
10, Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Saxo Bank, at 2 mins 46 secs

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