Tour of Qatar stages 1 & 2: Wins for Boonen and Haussler

Stage 1  – Dukhan to Al Khor Corniche 145.5km

Tom Boonen won for the 18th time at the Tour of Qatar, catching his rivals by surprise to claim an easy win at Al Khor Corniche and taking over the race lead from Lars Boom.

In windy conditions, a break of 18 riders formed early in the stage. They had to work hard to establish a decisive advantage, but eventually with most of the major teams represented in the escape group the peloton lost interest in chasing them down.

Boonen, who was supported in the breakaway by Quick Step teammates Nikolas Maes and Gert Steegmans, timed his attack perfectly. He launched his sprint from well back a long way out and established a huge gap before anyone was able to respond. At the line, he held a three-length advantage over Garmin-Cervélo‘s Heinrich Haussler and HTC-Highroad‘s Mark Renshaw.

Tom Boonen claims his 18th stage victory at the Tour of Qatar (image courtesy of Graham Watson)

Boom had initially been part of the lead group, but eventually lost contact with a reported stomach complaint. He eventually finished five minutes down in the first of four groups as the peloton shattered in the heavy winds.

Boonen was delighted to secure a confidence-boosting early season win, having missed the latter half of 2010 with a knee injury:

It was maybe the hardest thing in my career getting here in a good shape. I’m here now and I’m really happy that I could do the first stage with a victory straight away. It’s good for the morale and it shows that all the work I’ve done is paying off.

British riders Jeremy Hunt (Sky) and Roger Hammond (Garmin-Cervélo) – who won a stage here in 2009 – both featured in the successful breakaway and consequently moved up to ninth and 13th overall.

Crosswinds forced the peloton to ride in echelons on stage one, leading to big splits (image courtesy of Graham Watson)

Stage 1 result:

1. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) 2:59:29

2. Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) same time

3. Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad) s/t

4. Daniele Bennati (Leopard-Trek) s/t

5. Graeme Brown (Rabobank) s/t

Stage 2 – Camel Race Track to Doha Golf Club 135.5km

Stage two saw a somewhat chaotic bunch sprint as Australia’s Heinrich Haussler went one better than his result the previous day, edging out Daniele Bennati at Doha Golf Club to claim his first win in seven months. Like Tom Boonen the previous day, Haussler had missed the second half of last season with a knee injury sustained in the same multiple pile-up at June’s Tour de Suisse.

The day’s breakaway of five riders at one stage built a lead of around 5:30 before the peloton rapidly reeled them, completing the catch with just over eight kilometres to go. Sky initially pulled on the front before world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara came to the front to drive the pace as Leopard-Trek sought to control the lead-out for Bennati. But in the final drag Haussler found his way through a chink of daylight between the Italian and the barrier to take the win by maybe six inches. Katusha‘s Denis Galimzyanov was third.

Only in Qatar ... (image courtesy of Graham Watson)

A delighted Haussler was thrilled to finally win in Qatar:

I’ve had so many seconds here in Qatar the last two years it’s nice to get a win in. And especially after last year after things just went so bad – this year it’s good to start off in a positive way.

Tom Boonen ended up sixth after two of his lead-out men punctured in the closing kilometres, but retained the overall race lead by a single second from Haussler. Mark Renshaw is third at four seconds. Britain’s Jeremy Hunt and Roger Hammond remain ninth and 13th.

Stage 2 result:

1. Heinrich Haussler (Garmin–Cervélo) 3:04:03

2. Daniele Bennati (Leopard-Trek) same time

3. Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) s/t

4. Théo Bos (Rabobank) s/t

5. Roger Kluge (Skil-Shimano) s/t

General classification:

1. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) 6:06:35

2. Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) +0:01

3. Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad) +0:04

4. Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek) +0:08

5. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) +0:09

Daily live coverage and highlights of the Tour of Qatar are being broadcast by British Eurosport and Eurosport 2.

Links: Tour of Qatar official

Tour of Qatar posts

Explosive Boom wins Tour of Qatar prologue


About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

4 Responses to Tour of Qatar stages 1 & 2: Wins for Boonen and Haussler

  1. kittyfondue says:

    So hey, Tim – we were right about Ricco, it didn’t take him long to show his true colours. Admitted into hospital the other day with possible kidney failure (although out of danger now) and told the doctors that he’d been blood doping. Hopefully that’s the end of his career (before it’s the end of his life …).

    Nice to see Tom and his magnificent Boonens winning again.

    • Tim says:

      Indeed we were right about Ricco, although I have to say it gives me no joy to be proved so. I’m a bit concerned about the ethics behind how this news was revealed and also the vehemence of the reaction from some fans and riders alike. Blog post on this coming later (hopefully).

      I see Boonen has lost the race lead to Haussler in today’s stage, but nonetheless it is good to see him back. His presence will make the Classics even more exciting.

  2. Pingback: Tour of Qatar stages 3 & 4: Renshaw edges in front « The armchair sports fan

  3. Pingback: Tour of Qatar stage 5: Guardini wins stage, Renshaw eases to overall victory « The armchair sports fan

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