Boonen Victorious in Stage 2 of Tour of Qatar 2014
The Omega Pharma-QuickStep team worked hard and in timely fashion reeled in the breakaway in the final kilometers, before also chasing down a counter-attacking Lars Boom of the Belkin Pro Cycling Team. Boonen's sprint to the finish was so convincing that he created a considerable gap to 2nd and 3rd place finishers Michael Mørkøv (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol). Despite winning with multiple bike lengths, Boonen still made sure he sprinted all the way to the line, and even added a bike throw for good measure to impress the spectators.
"I always sprint to the line, because a few years ago I was beaten by a certain guy named Mark Cavendish at Scheldeprijs," Boonen said and laughed while waiting to be celebrated on the podium. "I didn't sprint to the line then. So, from that day on, I sprint until the last centimeter."
Boonen's teammate Niki Terpstra kept the general classification lead, having also fought for crucial intermediate sprint points throughout the stage.
"I am really happy about this result. The Tour of Qatar always brings me luck. It's only the second race this season after Tour de San Luis and I already have a victory. So I am happy about it especially after a stage like today, a stage that was really hard," Boonen explained.
"From the beginning we went full gas together with Tinkoff-Saxo and Team Sky and we created an immediate effect. We went away with about twenty guys, including eight riders from our team. So with that many teammates in the group we kept riding during the stage."
"We only thought about getting through the stage, and didn't focus on the sprint. At the five kilometer mark I was talking with Nikolas Maes to try and organize a sprint when I suddenly hit a hole in the road. My saddle went down about 4 cm, and was pointing downward. I also broke also wheels."
"I was super lucky that I didn't have a flat tire or crash. But at that point it was too late to think about it or change the bike. I only thought about going fast for the sprint, not thinking about what could happen. There's always something at Tour of Qatar to make this race hard — the wind, or an accident for example. So, considering this I am thrilled with this victory."
Boonen gave much credit to the hard work of his teammates throughout the stage.
"I'm especially happy for the team, we won two stages in two days, which is important for the morale," Boonen said. "Tomorrow there is a time trial, and we will see. Niki (Terpstra) is in the lead, and of course it would be nice to be there in the top five tomorrow with Niki and maybe someone else on our team. Because when you have more than one guy in the top positions you can play a little bit tactically in the next stages. It's only a question of going full gas for 10 kilometers tomorrow and see the results at the end."