Tour of Qatar – Stage 4


Bad luck hits Boasson Hagen who punctures and loses lead to teammate Cavendish while Kristoff wins his second stage this year in the race

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Tour of Qatar – Stage 4

Looking almost untouchable in gold after his time-trial win yesterday, Edvald Boasson Hagen was hit by bad luck on the 4th stage of the Tour of Qatar. Perfectly positioned at the front with 10 kms to go, the Norwegian suffered an unfortunate puncture that cost him his overall leader’s golden jersey.

The day’s stage victory eventually went to his compatriot Alexander Kristoff winning for the second consecutive year in Madinat Al Shamal. Very saddened by his team mate’s upset, Mark Cavendish, fifth today, moves back into race leadership. The battle for glory promises to be extremely intense tomorrow for the final day of the event: indeed only 2” separate ‘Cav’ from his closest rival Greg Van Avermaet in the GC.

A day after what looked to be a decisive time-trial conquered by Edvald Boasson Hagen (DDD), the riders gathered around the World Unesco heritage site of the Al Zubarah Fort for stage 4 of the Tour of Qatar. On the menu: a 189-km stage heading to Madinat Al Shamal where the 132 riders would battle it out on a final wind-swept circuit.

After an extremely fast start, thanks to the tailwind, several riders tried their luck but their breakaway efforts were vain. Eventually after 17 kilometres, 9 men managed to power away from the pack : Zakharov (AST), Van Hecke (TSV), McNally (WGG), Gretsch, Turgot (ALM), De Vries (ROP), Eaton (UHC) and Koep (SSG). Their lead reached a maximum 2’15” advantage at the first intermediate sprint (km 73) won by Gretsch ahead of Van Hecke and Zakharov.

After a sharp right turn, the pace of the pack went dramatically faster, led by team BMC Racing. While the gap with the front men started dropping, the pack broke up into several groups. In the leading group of 31 behind the escapees were golden jersey Boasson Hagen, silver jersey Mark Cavendish (DDD), white pearl jersey Andersen (TGA) as well as all the main favourites. The gap continued dropping and eventually the front 9 were caught at km 88. Meanwhile as the front group entered the circuit around Madinat Al Shamal, the main pack including the likes of Sam Bennett (BOA) and Sven Erik Bystrøm (KAT) remained 52” adrift. Facing the wind, all the groups eventually bunched up together again at km 110.

Five kilometres later, four men gave it a go: Van Hecke, McNally and Gretsch, again, as well as Asselman (ROP). Their lead rapidly grew and reached a maximum 2’15” at the first crossing of the line (km 135). At the second bonus sprint (2nd crossing of the line, km 148.5) won by Gretsch ahead of Asselman and McNally, the bunch had moved closer but remained 1’25” adrift.

Led by team Dimension Data, the pack carried on gaining time on the breakaway riders who were finally caught with just under one lap to go (km 176). The riders from teams BMC and LottoNL – Jumbo then decided to take control of the bunch and while 33 riders were left at the front, overall leader Boasson Hagen suffered a puncture with just under 10 kilometres to go. Despite being helped out by team mate Reguigui, the Norwegian was left stranded behind. BMC continued powering ahead and the gap over yesterday’s stage winner reached 40” with 5kms left.

Below: Mark McNally who featured in a break on stage 4

While Boasson Hagen was seeing his golden jersey hopes fade away, time had come for a bunched sprint. Perfectly led out by his Katusha team mates, Alexander Kristoff flew to his second stage win this year, only just beating Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) to the line while Jacopo Guarnieri (KAT) finished third. Already a winner in Madinat Al Shamal last year, Kristoff claimes his fifth success in Qatar.

Fifth on the day, Mark Cavendish (DDD) re-conquers the golden jersey from his team mate Boasson Hagen. The Brit has a very slim 2” lead over Van Avermaet and 6” over Quinziato (BMC) with one final stage to go. Thanks to his stage win, Kristoff takes command of the points classification and will be wearing the silver jersey tomorrow between the Sealine Beach Resort and the Doha Corniche. The white pearl jersey for the best young rider remains on the shoulders of Søren Kragh Andersen (TGA).


Mark Cavendish: “It was horrible to lose 1st and 2nd on GC in such a disappointing way. Edvald punctured in the last 10km and unfortunately Lotto Jumbo went full gas, BMC as well but obviously they had a reason to but Lotto Jumbo don’t have anyone on GC so it was a bit sad. All the guys waited for Edvald to try and bring him back. It was a full cross-tail finish so it means you need a full team with you otherwise you just going to be hammered in the gutter”.

“So we put all our eggs in Edvald’s basket and I knew I just needed to bury myself deep and we’d still hang onto the jersey anyway. The team rode incredibly strongly today. Matt and Mekseb controlled the race alone, with no help from any other teams and that was awesome to see for 190km. Honestly we got to pay back the good work the guys have done all week and hold on to the jersey tomorrow.

Roger Hammond – Sport Director: It’s a bit sad that after the team rode incredibly strongly all day, not getting any help from any other teams, that the only difference separating us from having complete control today was the double puncture. If you not winning because you not good enough that is one thing but just through a puncture, well that’s just disappointing.

Kristoff: – In the first part of the race it was not windy, but later the wind became stronger. We thought the peloton would come together at the finish and we had a plan for that situation, but the group was definitely split up. We still had many of our riders in the front group; the guys did a powerful lead out, we split the group again and it worked well. It was a perfect finish for us with first and third places.”

“Today I felt good, as strong as I was two days ago, so everything was ok for me. I want to thank my team, it was a great day for us – all guys did a fantastic job both during the stage in every dangerous moment and at the end, – said Alexander Kristoff. I am really sorry for Edvald (Boasson Hagen), he had a flat tire at the wrong moment. Few teams pulled in front because there was a fight for the general classification. We stayed behind, saving our legs for the last 2 km. The stage victory was the main goal for us and we achieved it, – added Alexander Kristoff.

Van Avermaet: “You have to take Qatar by day. It wasn’t so good for Boasson Hagen but unfortunately that’s racing with crashes and flat tires. We will see what happens tomorrow. I was pretty happy with the race and how the team rode in the front. We were always there, and we’re still up there in GC so it was a good day.”

Van Avermaet believes the team has shown their form at the Tour of Qatar. “We have a strong team with the Classics guys here. It’s always important to build the team around me and I’m really happy with the work they did. I think everybody is in good shape. Everybody knows what work he has to do, even the first guy who was pulling from the first meters until the last lap, so I think we have great condition.”


1 KRISTOFF Alexander TEAM KATUSHA 03h 57′ 12”
2 VAN AVERMAET Greg BMC RACING TEAM 03h 57′ 12” + 00′ 00”
3 GUARNIERI Jacopo TEAM KATUSHA 03h 57′ 12” + 00′ 00”
4 BENNETT Sam BORA-ARGON 18 03h 57′ 12” + 00′ 00”
5 CAVENDISH Mark DIMENSION DATA 03h 57′ 12” + 00′ 00”
6 QUINZIATO Manuel BMC RACING TEAM 03h 57′ 12” + 00′ 00”
7 KUZNETSOV Viacheslav TEAM KATUSHA 03h 57′ 18” + 00′ 06”
8 ANDERSEN Søren Kragh TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN 03h 57′ 20” + 00′ 08”
9 HOFLAND Moreno TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 03h 57′ 21” + 00′ 09”
10 MORKOV Michael TEAM KATUSHA 03h 57′ 21” + 00′ 09”

16 DEMPSTER Zakkari BORA-ARGON 18 03h 57′ 30” + 00′ 18”
50 THWAITES Scott BORA-ARGON 18 03h 57′ 57” + 00′ 45”
91 MCNALLY Mark WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT 03h 58′ 56” + 01′ 44”
92 MCLAY DANIEL FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT 03h 58′ 56” + 01′ 44”
93 BRAMMEIER Matthew DIMENSION DATA 03h 58′ 56” + 01′ 44”

4 KRISTOFF Alexander TEAM KATUSHA + 00′ 09”
7 BENNETT Sam BORA-ARGON 18 + 00′ 41”
8 BYSTRÖM Sven Erik TEAM KATUSHA + 00′ 49”
9 KUZNETSOV Viacheslav TEAM KATUSHA + 00′ 50”
10 SCHÄR Michael BMC RACING TEAM + 00′ 58”

11 MODOLO Sacha LAMPRE – MERIDA + 01′ 06”
12 DEMPSTER Zakkari BORA-ARGON 18 + 01′ 13”
24 THWAITES Scott BORA-ARGON 18 + 03′ 16”



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