Chicchi takes final Qatar stage, Mol wins overall
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Friday, February 12, 2010

Chicchi takes final Qatar stage, Mol wins overall

by Bjorn Haake at 7:20 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 

Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas-Doimo) sprinted to his second win in the Tour of Qatar, beating Garmin's Tyler Farrar and Juan José Haedo (Saxo Bank). Tom Boonen was victim of a wave in the final 200m and only managed seventh place. Wouter Mol took the overall, his biggest win so far.

Vacansoleil was in control of the final stage until the sprinters' teams took over. Chicci couldn't believe what he had done, leaning over his bike after the stage, with a puzzled look on his face. The Italian came from far back and passed quite a few people in the final meters.

Mol took the overall win ahead of Geert  Steurs thanks to the duo's escape in stage two, where the Sky team of then-leader Edvald Boasson Hagen decided not to chase. The two shared the honors: Steurs took the stage, Mol the overall.  With the winning margin of almost two minutes,  Mol was already virtually secured the win in stage two, as large time gaps in Qatar are not common.

But throughout the week, Mol stayed skeptical. "After taking the lead I didn't expect to win and decided to take it day by day." But his confidence grew over time. "When I saw my teammates being this strong and when we got closer to the end I started to believe in it. Teammates like this are amazing."

The last stage was short, at 123.5 kilometers, and like it is common for some of the stage races, ended with a fast circuit-style race. Eight laps on a six-kilometer course concluded this year's Tour of Qatar.

Roger Kluge won the jersey for the best young rider and missed the podium by only four seconds. The young German tried everything in the week-long race and even secured  sprint points in stage four, but Boonen's two stage victories gave the Belgian enough cushion to finish third. Kluge ended the last day in eighth place, one place behind Boonen.

Milram's director Ralf Grabsch was very pleased with his team. "I am very satisfied with our riders' performances.  We have had some very good successes here.  That makes us confident for the Tour of Oman, and also for our first appearances in the Belgian Classics the end of the month," Grabsch said. "Niki Terpstra laid the groundstone today for our  fourth place overall with his escape attempt.  With the relatively weak wind today, that was the right strategy to protect Roger Kluge's position and prevent his rivals from picking up bonus seconds at the intermediate sprints."

Terpstra started an attack early with Patrick Gretsch (HTC-Columbia), Martin Kohler (BMC Racing) and Ben King (Trek- Livestrong U-23).  The quartet held onto a comfortable lead for a long time and at the intermediate sprints gathered the bonus seconds, which could have cost Roger Kluge his top five placing. 

About 25 kilometers before the finish line the lead was still more than two and a half minutes.  The group around Terpstra fought hard but the escape was ended four kilometers before the finish line. The bunch sprint was pretty wild, but stayed clear from crashes this time, in part thanks to the extremely wide finishing straight in Doha.

The race also went well for the Cervélo TestTeam, with the second-year team coming away with the best team classification and, while they didn't win a stage this time around, sprinter Heinrich Haussler did enough to take home the points classification.

"Again today there was very little wind so we tried to prepare the sprint for Theo and Heinrich had a free role in the final," explained Cervélo TestTeam's sports director Jens Zemke. "But it was pretty stressful in that final since a lot of teams wanted to win this last stage and we do have the best sprinters in the peloton here. Chicchi won his second stage, Heinrich finished in ninth spot and was able to keep his points jersey. A big present at the end of this was winning the team classification, another great result. Without the one minute penalty from the first stage we would have had a good change to win our first stage race of the season. But we move on. The riders have confirmed that this was good preparation for them and that they are ready for the season."

Now many of the teams in Qatar will head to the first edition of the Tour of Oman.  The race promises to offer up a bit more variety in terrain than the Qatari Tour, so riders and their teams are still not sure what to expect.

Results

1. Francesco Chicchi (LIQ) 2h42'09
2. Tyler Farrar (GRM)
3. Juan Jose Haedo (SAX)
4. Matthew Goss (THR)
5. Jimmy Casper (SAU)
6. Edvald Boasson Hagen (SKY)
7. Tom Boonen (QST)
8. Roger Kluge (MRM)
9. Heinrich Haussler (CTT)
10. John Murphy (BMC)

Final overall classification

1. Wouter Mol (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team)   15h55'17
2. Geert Steurs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator)       00'35
3. Tom Boonen (Quick Step Cycling Team)                01'45
4. Roger Kluge (Team Milram)                                      01'59
5. Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing Team)                   02'05
6. Danilo Napolitano (Katusha Team)                         02'09
7. Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma - Lotto)               02'17
8. Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas-Doimo)                     02'28
9. Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo Test Team)                02'37
10. Stuart O’Grady (Team Saxo Bank)                        02'40

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