Boonen opens Oman account with stage 5
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Boonen opens Oman account with stage 5

by Ben Atkins at 12:03 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) took his first stage win in the Tour of Oman in a bunch sprint at the Sultan Qaboos Stadium. The Belgian champion, who took two stages in the neighbouring Tour of Qatar last week, beat Argentinian Juan Jose Haedo (Saxo Bank) and Michael Van Staeyen (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) into second and third. American Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) finished fourth and former race leader Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) was fifth.

“It wasn’t an easy sprint,” said Boonen. “I was only able to pass Haedo in the last 30-40 metres. I want to share this victory with all the guys on the team.

“This morning I asked my teammates to race and work together, and every one of them, especially in the final, performed his job perfectly. Our fitness is in a crescendo and I’m very happy with the way I’ve been feeling and the work we’ve done these last few days.”

Several riders, including Philippe Gilbert (OmegaPharma-Lotto), attempted to escape in the early kilometres. Finally after 20km, former World champion Alessandro Ballan (BMC Racing) successfully broke the shackles of the peloton, getting away with Nikita Eskov (Katusha) and Matthé Pronk (Vacansoleil). The trio quickly extended its advantage to 5 minutes 30km later.

Work on the front from the Liquigas-Doimo team of race leader Daniele Bennati – keen to not allow the gap to grow too wide – steadily reduced the breakaway’s advantage, but was happy to let the three riders swallow up the time bonuses on the way. The trio was finally caught with 13km remaining, which was the signal for Boonen’s Quick Step team, Haedo’s Saxo Bank team, and Boasson Hagen’s Sky team to move up for the inevitable sprint.

Boonen, who clearly enjoys the early season warm-weather racing in the Middle East, added his first Oman stage to the 17 he has won in Qatar.

Bennati only managed sixth on the stage but keeps his leaders jersey. Time bonuses lift Boonen to within 2 seconds of the Italian though, with just tomorrow’s 18.6km time trial remaining. Boonen is playing down his chances of overall victory, however.

“During the winter I’ve been training specifically for the time trial,” he said, “but tomorrow won’t be your average time trial; we’ll all be riding normal bikes and the route is quite challenging.

“I’ll be riding without any pressure because I’m starting with no ambitions to classify.”

Regardless of this, the Belgian has a good chance of overhauling the slim deficit and adding the first Tour of Oman to a Palmares that already includes three Tours of Qatar.

With the classics season about to start in his native Belgium, the Belgian champion is more concerned with taking his first ever win at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this Sunday.

“Next week I’m going to try to recuperate as best I can after these two weeks of intense work,” he said. “This is why I won’t be participating in the traditional team reconnaissance ride on the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad course that’s scheduled for Tuesday. I’d rather get my strength back 100% and do a couple of good training sessions.

“The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is a race I love a lot and which I’ve never been able to win for a series of different reasons. Next Saturday I’d like to try again.”

Result stage 5
1. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
2. Juan Jose Huedo (Arg) Saxo Bank
3. Michael Van Staeyn (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator
4. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Transitions
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky
6. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
7. Roger Kluge (Ger) Milram
8. Dominique Rollin (Can) Cervélo TestTeam
9. Klaas Lodewijck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator)
10. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale

Standings after stage 5
1. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
2. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step @ 2s
3. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Transitions @ 6s


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