BMC Racing Team’s Brent Bookwalter out-sprinted two breakaway companions and a rapidly closing, reduced peloton to win Sunday’s opening stage of the Tour of Qatar.
Win Was ‘A Shock’
Bookwalter, Martin Elmiger (IAM Pro Cycling) and Gregory Rast (Radioshack Leopard) slipped the peloton with 11 km to go just as the front of the race was reforming after being sliced into pieces in the desert crosswinds. The trio rapidly gained 30 seconds, saw its lead peak at 45 seconds and barely held off the chase by the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team in the final kilometers of the 145.2 km race. Bookwalter said he was hoping his breakaway companions would start sprinting farther out. “But they left it really late – they’re both smart, really strong riders,” he said. “But I was able to tuck in just for a second and get around them. I had been telling myself (in the final kilometers) that I was going to win, but it was a shock to see my wheel go over that line first. It was a feeling I haven’t had in a really long time so it was really special and exciting.”
Team Time Trial Monday
Bookwalter’s win on the BMC timemachine TMR01 was his second of a six-year professional career, adding to his victory in the prologue of the 2009 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. He also helped Cadel Evans win the 2011 Tour de France and was runner-up on the Stage 1 individual time trial of the 2010 Giro d’Italia. The Albuquerque, N.M. native and resident of Asheville, N.C., donned the race leader’s golden jersey and also earned the silver points jersey of the six-day race that continues Monday with a 14 km team time trial. “We looked at the course yesterday and it’s a pretty typical, Qatar affair,” Bookwalter said. “It will be windy and there’s a couple corners and turnarounds but we have a really good team for it. Today, the guys were really strong and I think we’ll show that again tomorrow.”
Phinney Earns Bonus Seconds
Before Bookwalter’s escape, a host of other BMC Racing Team riders showed themselves in the leading group. Blythe, Taylor Phinney, Michael Schär and Greg Van Avermaet all made the decisive splits with Schär integrating himself in a four-man move that was caught with 12 km to go. “The guys did everything according to plan today,” BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Jackson Stewart said. “We knew were we always riding for Taylor and he got a few time bonuses. The only thing we’re worried about now is the winds might down die down a little bit. So we are wondering how much harder the stages will be if that happens and how much time is out there to get.” Phinney, who was eighth on the stage, won the first intermediate sprint and was third on the other to earn the best young rider jersey. He is fifth overall, six seconds off the lead.