Mark Cavendish blasts to stage 3 victory in 2013 Tour of Qatar
Stage 3 of the 2013 Tour of Qatar finished in a chaotic bunch sprint where Team Omega Pharma-QuickStep's former World Champion Mark Cavendish was the fastest man across the finish line.
Barry Markus of Team Vacansoleil-DCM finished in 2nd position and Team GreenEdge's Aidis Kruopis took third.
The stage victory allowed Cavendish to advance into fourth overall, eight seconds behind Tour of Qatar race leader Bookwalter, while Bookwalter's BMC Racing teammates Taylor Phinney and Adam Blythe remain second and third overall, six and seven seconds behind, respectively.
When a seven-man breakaway group escaped early in the 143-kilometer stage on a looping Al Wakra/Masaieed circuit Team BMC Racing, headed by Yannick Eijssen, worked hard to prevent the gap from becoming too large. For the first time in this year's Tour of Qatar the wind did not succeed at becoming a dominating factor which would influence the outcome of the stage.
In the final kilometers Team Sky, Team GreenEdge, Katusha and Vacansoleil all worked hard to deliver their lead-out trains in perfect positions for the team sprinters. The high speed and physical strength of their riders forced Cavendish's Omega Pharma-QuickStep team towards the back of the peloton and thereby left Cavendish without a leadout train for the finale.
So Cavendish had to go solo and once again proved that stages can be won without help from muscular and masculine leadout trains.
"It was really chaotic. Really, really chaotic. We lost my last man with 2 kilometers to go and Terpstra was left taking me into the finale. There were so many leadout trains (from competitor teams) but they think a leadout is what you need, but they don’t really know what they’re doing," Cavendish explained after being celebrated on the podium.
Cavendish now has his eyes on the possibility of taking the overall victory in this year's Tour of Qatar.
"Anything can happen. You just have to take every day as it comes.”
Bookwalter, however, said he's not worried about losing his race lead. "We're still in a good place with five guys in the top 10 and two of them – Taylor and Adam – who are really good in the sprints," he said. However, he later added that he viewed Cavendish as the race favorite.
After the stage BMC Racing Team rider Eijssen claimed his team had had the stage under control the whole day and that it hadn't been too hard a day for the red riders.
"We had things under control. The wind was less than it was on the first days. It's not enough to make echelons to the finish. I think it is going to be like this every day for the last three days."
Tomorrow's stage 4 is a 160 kilometer ride from Camel Race Track to Al Khor Corniche. The stage may well end in a peloton sprint. Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com for our continued coverage of the Tour of Qatar.