Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Mark Cavendish snuck his way through a tough situation inside the final kilometer at Tour of Qatar Stage 6 on Friday. The peloton was determined to try and prevent his fourth straight victory, and as he was slightly boxed in within the final meters, it looked to be a tough task for the Manx Missile.
However, after his OPQS teammates protected him all race long, Cavendish found enough of an opening in the final 300 meters to sneak up the left side and accelerate for the win. His fourth straight victory at Tour of Qatar also sealed the overall win, and he even took home the points jersey with 70 points.
Cavendish’s stage and GC victories make it eight for OPQS, in three disciplines, in 2013.
“It was kind of like Al Khor, actually,” Cavendish said of the final sprint, comparing his tactics to the victory of Stage 4. “I knew the wind was coming from the right, knew a gap was coming from the left. Same as when I won in 2009. The same tactics. The guys were going, and going, and going. Other teams started winding up with four laps to go. Still, it ended up the same way with one lap to go. It’s a bit safer into the last lap and everyone’s happy. The guys had been a bit used up for working for me all day and the entire race, so I knew I can kind of just go alone, can leave it late and come up the left side again. That’s exactly what I did. I knew they would go right, and I could just use other leadouts to move up in the last 300 meters and jump on the left hand side.”
Cavendish said he was a bit “rusty” after a crash earlier slightly after 15km into the final stage.
“I tweeted this morning that I’ve won and crashed this stage before — the previous one — and the fact is I did both again,” Cavendish said with a laugh. “I was just going along after 15km, came to a roundabout not going hard, just riding. I was riding on someone’s wheel and he just went down. He doesn’t even know what happened. But, that’s bike racing. It was a freak accident. I’m a bit banged up, but I’m OK. I am just kind of twisted, but we’ll get it sorted.”
Cavendish was all smiles talking about earned the first overall victory for OPQS in 2013 at Tour of Qatar — a race OPQS has been successful at since it began. Cavendish not only continued the tradition at Tour of Qatar, he also added a second stage victory to his palmares.
“I’m over the moon,” Cavendish said. “We come here every year almost guaranteed an overall victory with Tom Boonen, but he’s recovering from an injury. So it put a little bit of pressure on me and I was a bit nervous. But I’m really happy to get the win. The guys worked incredible here. They really looked after me so, so well here and delivered every single day. I am so happy and proud I can bring it home again for the team again. We’ve won Tour of Qatar six times, and I don’t know how many stages, so I am happy to be a part of that.”