Tour of Qatar stages 3 & 4: Renshaw edges in front
February 10, 2011 4 Comments
Like a hot potato being passed from person to person, the race leader’s gold jersey at the Tour of Qatar has changed hands on each of the last two days. With just tomorrow’s final stage to come, it is now HTC-Highroad‘s Mark Renshaw who heads the general classification by six seconds from double stage winner Heinrich Haussler of Garmin-Cervélo.
Here is a quick recap of the last two days.
Stage 3 - Al Wakra to Mesaieed, 150.5km
Heinrich Haussler claimed a second successive stage win and wrested the gold jersey from Quick Step‘s Tom Boonen as he eased to victory in Mesaieed on yet another windy day which made life difficult for the riders.
After a relatively still stage two, strong winds played a significant role here. Six riders eventually managed to escape from the main pack as they struggled into a heavy headwind, quickly building an advantage of over 12 minutes. Crosswinds then shattered the peloton, with all the key players safely ensconced in the front chase group. The leaders were eventually caught with around 50km to go.
Overnight race leader Boonen was then dropped after he punctured and was unable to bridge the ensuing gap, hampered by the crosswind. A lead group of 30 riders went clear to fight it out to the finish.
With four kilometres to go, Astana‘s Simon Clarke launched a long solo attack, which was not reeled in until inside the final kilometre, setting up the final sprint. Mark Renshaw made the first move, but Haussler sat on his wheel and then charged around the outside of him in the final 100 metres, holding off both his fellow Aussie and Daniele Bennati. Haussler’s advantage was comfortable enough for him to be able to sit up in celebration as he crossed the line.
Haussler revealed that it had been his team’s plan to treat the stage like a one-day race, as it represented the last real chance to create some splits in the field:
At the team meeting last night, we had a look at the wind on the internet for the rest of the week. We knew that today was pretty much the final day to do something, so we treated it as a one-day race.
It was the last stage where we could make up some time on GC, and we ended up getting the stage win, the yellow jersey and the points jersey, so it all went really well.
Britain’s Jeremy Hunt and Roger Hammond finished with the lead group and moved up to fifth and seventh in the overall standings, while Hunt’s Sky teammate Juan Antonio Flecha edged into fourth, 18 seconds behind Haussler. Boonen lost more than three minutes and dropped to 14th, 3:11 behind.
Stage 3 result:
1. Heinrich Haussler (Garmin–Cervélo) 3:28:04
2. Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad) same time
3. Daniele Bennati (Leopard-Trek) s/t
4. Dominique Rollin (FDJ) s/t
5. Lars Boom (Rabobank) s/t
Stage 4 - West Bay Lagoon to Al Kharaitiyat, 153.5km
Mark Renshaw relieved his compatriot Heinrich Haussler of the gold jersey after just one day when he edged out Daniele Bennati and Tom Boonen in the sprint to win stage four at Al Kharaitiyat.
Yet again, crosswinds made life difficult for the peloton, causing it to fracture on several occasions. With just over 12 kilometres to the finish, Rabobank‘s Maarten Tjallingii tried a solo attack and was allowed to get 20 seconds ahead of the peloton before a concerted push by Sky brought him back just inside the six kilometre mark.
Sky team leader Bradley Wiggins then had a go himself, being briefly joined by prologue winner Lars Boom, before HTC-Highroad’s Bernhard Eisel brought what was left of the lead pack – now numbering around 20 riders – back up to them.
Leopard-Trek‘s attempted lead-out for Bennati fizzled out, leaving the main contenders to fight it out among themselves. Boonen, who had been hanging slightly back, was the first to attack, but Renshaw felt him coming and responded to the move, catapulting himself nearly a length clear at the finish. Bennati edged out Boonen for second, with Haussler a distant fourth. With the overnight leader missing out on the sprint bonuses, Renshaw’s win moved him from four seconds behind to six ahead of Haussler heading into tomorrow’s final stage.
Renshaw credited good luck and good positioning for his first win of 2011:
I had the good fortune to be well placed in the sprint behind Bennati and I kicked on at the right time.
He also dedicated the win to his wife:
This win is a huge boost to my morale. Ever since I got married [this winter] I’ve been training really hard, so this win is dedicated to my wife who’s had to put up with all of that and who’s been very forgiving.
Looking forward to tomorrow’s closing 126.5km stage finishing in Doha Corniche, he concluded:
It’s going to be a really nervous day, there’s 16 seconds on offer so we’ll have to play things tactically. There are three strong teams here, so it’s a matter of watching our rivals closely and making sure we don’t make any mistakes.
Roger Hammond (Garmin-Cervélo) leapfrogged fellow Brit Jeremy Hunt (Sky); the pair are now fifth and sixth.
Stage 4 result:
1. Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad) 3:12:36
2. Daniele Bennati (Leopard-Trek) same time
3. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) s/t
4. Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) s/t
5. Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) s/t
1. Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad) 12:47:00
2. Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) +0:06
3. Daniele Bennati (Leopard-Trek) +0:15
4. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) +0:24
5. Roger Hammond (Garmin-Cervélo) +0:36
Daily live coverage and highlights of the Tour of Qatar are being broadcast by British Eurosport and Eurosport 2.
Tour of Qatar posts
- Haussler wins another at Tour of Qatar, takes lead (velonews.competitor.com)