Tour of Qatar stage 5: Guardini wins stage, Renshaw eases to overall victory
February 11, 2011 1 Comment
Farnese‘s Andrea Guardini took the win in a chaotic, disorganised sprint at the end of the fifth and final stage of the Tour of Qatar, but it made no difference to the overall standings. HTC-Highroad‘s Mark Renshaw was able to roll safely across the line in the middle of the lead group to claim the overall race victory.
Greg van Avermaet (BMC) and Gediminas Bagdonas (An Post) broke away from the pack early on. The pair rapidly established a lead of over five minutes, sweeping up the first two places at the two intermediate sprints.
Behind them, Renshaw protected his advantage over Heinrich Haussler by leaping clear of the pack to claim the one-second bonus available for third spot at each sprint point, extending his lead to eight seconds.
The two leaders were eventually caught with just over six kilometres remaining, after which the pack slackened off and the peloton bunched up until Fabian Cancellara took over at the front to keep the pace up. With no team able to set up a proper lead-out, the finish became a free-for-all with riders spreading out across the entire width of the road. As Quick Step‘s Francesco Chicchi went all the way to the left-hand side of the road to open up his sprint, the first-year pro Guardini maturely left his attack until the last possible moment, pulling out of Théo Bos‘s slipstream in the last 100 metres and sneaking between the Rabobank man and the barrier on the right-hand side to win by about half a length. Victory here adds to a 2011 record which already boasts five stage wins at the recent Tour de Langkawi. He is one to watch.
Behind them, Renshaw was content to sit on Haussler’s wheel, knowing that only an outright win could deprive him of the gold jersey. In the end Haussler was no threat, and the 28-year old claimed the first major stage race victory of his career.
Renshaw explained afterwards that keeping an eye on Haussler was all-important:
The last day was really a question of staying in the pack and making sure I stayed close to Haussler and at the head of the field.
The last two laps of this stage were a bit of a blur, I was going through riders right and left and just trying to follow Haussler. With 500 metres to go I managed to get out of the pack, but with 200 metres to go I knew all I had to do was stay there and win the race.
Victory brought a good end to a week which had started dismally for HTC-Highroad, as team leader Mark Cavendish suffered bad cuts and scrapes in a prologue crash which clearly affected him for at least a couple of days afterwards. Ellen van Dijk of the HTC women’s team had already won the ladies’ race last week.
British riders Roger Hammond (Garmin-Cervélo) and Jeremy Hunt (Sky) finished fifth and sixth overall, while Bradley Wiggins ended up 31st, happy to have put some racing miles in his legs as he gears up for the major spring races.
And that’s it for the tenth Tour of Qatar, a geographically flat and featureless race enlivened by the influence of heavy winds which regularly caused the peloton to fracture and required the riders to be alert at all times. Congratulations to Mark Renshaw, and it has also been good to see the return to form after injury of both Haussler and Tom Boonen, and the emergence of the 21-year old Guardini, who looks to be quite a prospect for the future.
Stage 5 result:
1. Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Neri) 2:44:06
2. Francesco Chicchi (Quick Step) same time
3. Théo Bos (Rabobank) s/t
4. Dominique Rollin (FDJ) s/t
5. Kenny Van Hummel (Skil-Shimano) s/t
1. Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad) 15:31:04
2. Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) +0:08
3. Daniele Bennati (Leopard-Trek) +0:17
4. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) +0:26
5. Roger Hammond (Garmin-Cervélo) +0:38
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