The 145.2 kilometer long first stage of Tour of Qatar was launched in Katara Cultural Village and by the look of the stage profile, it seemed like a perfect opportunity for the sprinters as the finish line in Dukhan Beach was a long and flat stretch. The biggest candidate for the win was therefore Omega-Pharma Quick Step’s Mark Cavendish.
But as always in this race, the wind played a big role as the it split the peloton in to three groups and 30 kilometers to go, no one could tell whether the field would be complete entering the finish line. Even though the groups merged going in to the final ten kilometers, riders kept insisting on getting away from the field and a trio succeeded in breaking clear of the chasing field where Omega-Pharma Quick Step were the locomotive.
On the finish line, Gregory Rast (Radioshack) opened the sprint for the trio but Brent Bookwalter (BMC) had the bigger engine and took the win just ahead of the pacing peloton.
Team Saxo-Tinkoff Dane, Matti Breschel finished seventh:
”Danniele (Bennat) and Matti (Breschel) were in the lead group while Matteo (Tosatto) was in the chase group before they were re-joined in the finale. Unfortunately, the peloton wasn’t able to catch the front trio but Matti was in a great position and finished right behind Cavendish. The stage kind of developed as I expected in these wind conditions where big groups often first break clear and come together in the finale. Hats off for the escapees who managed to stay out there,” said Team Saxo-Tinkoff Dane, Lars Michaelsen after the stage.
Tomorrow, the field takes on a team time trial over 14 kilometers.