Greipel Powers to Victory in Tour of Qatar 2014
In the general classification Niki Terpstra remains the overall leader of the Tour of Qatar with just one day to go.
After yesterday’s record-breaking stage in terms of speed, the wind was still extremely present for the Tour of Qatar’s fifth stage. It would, however, not be as decisive. The 148 riders took off from the Al Zubara Fortress for the longest day of the event - 159 kilometers of riding all the way to Madinat Al Shamal.
Despite a fairly fast start (48.6 kms covered during the first hour), four riders managed to breakaway as soon as kilometer six: Stijn Devolder (Trek Factory Racing), Isaychev (Katusha), Schorn and Gretsch. Their advantage over the pack grew rapidly and reached 2’05 at kilometer 26 while counter-attacking rider Chtioui remained 50” adrift.
The first intermediate sprint (km 44) was claimed by Schorn ahead of Isaychev and Gretsch while Chtioui was at 2’20 and the pack, not too concerned by the escapees, was 5’ behind. The Tunisian national champion eventually stopped his vain solitary effort and was caught by the pack after the 50-km mark. Meanwhile, the gap grew in favor of the front men and reached a maximum 6’50 at km 59.
Slowly but surely, the sprinters’ teams took command of the pack and started chasing. At the second bonus sprint, at the first crossing of the finish line (km 95.5), won by Gretsch ahead of Isaychev and two-time Tour of Flanders winner Stijn Devolder, the gap had dropped down to 4’05. The riders would then have to cover one big lap of the circuit (36.5 kms) and two small ones (13.5 kms). At the second crossing of the line, the leading four could still enjoy a three minute advantage.
The escapees were eventually caught by the bunched pack with nine kilometers to go, just before the final showdown. In the final kilometers of the race, all the big names of sprinting moved to the front of the pack for what would be quite an explanation on the long and very slightly uphill straight in Madinat Al Shamal. Unlike the previous day when he had to settle for second spot just behind Boonen, André Greipel flew to a convincing first win in Qatar. The German national champion beat Aidis Kruopis and Belkin's Theo Bos to the line, claiming a second success in 2014 after his win at the Tour Down Under.
After a rather comfortable day in the pack, well protected by his Omega Pharma – Quickstep team mates, Niki Terpstra keeps his overall race lead. The Dutchman still has a solid 17” lead over teammate Tom Boonen, and 20 seconds over Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol). With a day to go and a final stage on the Doha Corniche, Terpstra is in pole position to capture his first ever overall victory in the Tour of Qatar. Boonen keeps command of the points classification while Guillaume Van Keirsbulck remains the best young rider.