Tom Boonen robbed by a puncture in Qatar for a second time
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tom Boonen robbed by a puncture in Qatar for a second time

by Ben Atkins at 3:07 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Qatar
Belgian loses race lead in the crosswinds just like in 2004 edition

tom boonenTom Boonen (Quick Step) lost the lead in the Tour of Qatar during stage 3 as a puncture made him lose his place in the front group. The Belgian, who holds the record for stage and overall victories in the Middle Eastern race, had no chance of making it up to the leaders again in the crosswinds and was powerless to stop double stage winner Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) from taking his gold jersey.

“Because of a manoeuvre by [Bernhard] Eisel [HTC-Highroad] I, along with [Stuart] O’Grady and [Tom] Stamsnijder [Leopard Trek] were pushed onto the line, “Boonen said in De Standaard. “All three of us got punctures at the same time.”

“After the puncture a lot of riders passed me by; it takes a long time to get from a standstill to riding 60kph,” he explained. “It was a decisive time and I realised right away that I had to get back up to the front immediately or else it would all be over. But even if I’d managed to close the gap I’d have been dead.”

Despite Boonen’s best efforts, with the help of a number of his teammates, the shattered peloton could not stop the front group of riders from pulling away. Once the gap was more than a minute and a half, with just 20km to go, the peloton gave up and eventually conceded 3’02” to Haussler.

Even if Boonen had made it to the finish with the leaders, the 10 bonus seconds that Haussler received for the win would have been enough to see him overtake the Belgian in the standings; the Australian started the day just 1 second behind. The puncture though, robbed Boonen of the opportunity to contest the win, and puts him so far behind that he now has no chance of making up the time.

“This is the second time that a puncture has caused me to lose this race,” he said. “In 2004 the same thing happened to me.

“Although I’m old enough to put this into perspective,” he added, “I’d rather get a puncture riding here than anywhere else. Also, I now have the advantage that I can relax in the race; maybe I’ll go on a breakaway.”


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