Today the long awaited wind smiled on the Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team. In the desert of Qatar Tom Boonen clinched a second success after his victory in the first stage, his 20th personal bull’s eye in Qatar, at the end of a gruelling race in which the colours of Omega Pharma – Quick-Step shined brilliantly.
The race was defined by a series of echelons that broke up the group and left some of the day’s favourites by the wayside. The men from Omega Pharma – Quick-Step remained consistently in the first positions of the peloton to avoid eventual breakups of their group. At about 5 kilometres from the arrival, following an acceleration by Cancellara, a group of 6 riders remained in the lead: Cancellara, Flecha, Veelers and three men from Omega Pharma – Quick-Step: Boonen, Maes and Steegmans. In the last two kilometres, first Maes and then Steegmans took the situation in hand. At 400 metres Cancellara launched his sprint but it was nothing in the face of Tornado Tom’s sheer power.
Result of the 147.6km fourth
stage of the Tour of Qatar between Al Thakira and Madinat Al Shamal on
1. Tom Boonen (BEL), 3hr 03min 14sec, 2. Tom Veelers (NED) same time, 3.
Fabian Cancellara (SUI) s.t., 4. Juan Antonio Flecha (ESP) s.t., 5. Gert
Steegmans (BEL) at 4sec, 6. Nikolas Maes (BEL) 11, 7. Yoann Offredo (FRA) 14,
8. Bernhard Eisel (AUT) s.t., 9. Tyler Farrar (USA) s.t., 10. Ian Stannard
1. Tom Boonen (BEL) 9hr 50min 50sec, 2. Tyler Farrar (USA) at 31sec, 3.
Juan Antonio Flecha (ESP) 34, 4. Gert Steegmans (BEL) 36, 5. Bernhard Eisel
(AUT) 45, 6. Tom Veelers (NED) 1:00, 7. Fabian Cancellara (SUI) 1:06, 8.
Ramunas Navardauska (LTU) 1:09, 9. Aidis Kruopis (LTU) 1:10, 10. Adam Blythe
“This is an important step towards the general classification,” said Boonen. “The more difficult the race conditions, the more the riders who are in top shape are emerging. Today our team had a perfect race. Once again Steegmans carried me perfectly. I have great faith in Gert and again today we proved our worth.”
Boonen now leads the general classification with a 31’’ advantage over Tyler Farrar and 34’’ on Juan Antonio Flecha.
“It won’t be easy to defend the jersey in these next few days but I’m lucky to have a great team with me,” continued Boonen. “Personally, I feel good and I’m looking forward to the last stages with confidence, even if in the desert flat tyres and echelons are part of the course.”
“Today the team did a great job and Boonen capitalised on everyone’s efforts” Sports Director Wilfried Peeters said. “Too bad that Vandenbergh and Van Keirsbulck got flats. The next two stages are going to be a battle. With a little luck we’ll try to defend our leadership.”
Tomorrow the riders will cover 160 kilometres, from Camel race Track to Al Khor Corniche.