A year after the sad death of Frederik Nolf during the 2009 Tour of Qatar, his Topsport Vlaanderen former team mate Geert Steurs claimed victory on stage 2 of the race. After breaking away after only two kilometres with Wouter Mol, the Belgian managed to stay clear of the chasing pack. The overall leaderâ€™s golden jersey changes shoulders and goes to Mol (VAC).
128 riders at the start; 16 teams
After respecting a minute of silence in memory of Franco Ballerini, the pack took off from the Camel Race Track facing strong north winds. Just before reaching the official start of the race, Norwayâ€™s Arvesen (SKY) was forced to pull out after crashing and injuring his shoulder.
Two kilometres into the stage, Wouter Mol (VAC), despite the strong face wind, broke away from the pack and was rapidly caught by Geert Steurs (TSV). Both escapees saw their advantage grow: 3â€™ at km 7 and a maximum 22â€™40 at km 36. The Garmin and Cervelo teams then decided to take on the chase and the gap dropped down.
As the riders headed right and witnessed a more favourable wind, the pack broke up into several groups. In a first group of 28 men was title holder Tom Boonen (QST) as well as the likes of Haussler (CTT), Gilbert (OLO), Farrar (GRM) and Ballan (BMC) while golden jersey Boasson Hagen (SKY) was struggling in a second pack.
At the first intermediate sprint (km 53.5) claimed by Mol ahead of Steurs, the Boonen group pack led by Hulsmans (QST) remained 16â€™15 adrift. Meanwhile the gaps increased between the different bunches of the main field. Boasson Hagenâ€™s deficit on Boonen went from 30â€ť to over a minute. The second bonus sprint at km 96 was again won by Mol ahead of Steurs as the Boonen group led by Haussler (CTT), with 20 riders left, closed in, at 9â€™â€™03.
With 25 kilometres to go, the escapees could still enjoy a 5â€™30 advantage but were to carry on loosing time as they entered the city of Doha. With just over 5 kilometres to go, Haussler (CTT) tried his luck and took off on a counter-attack. The front men reached the final 3km mark with a 2â€™20 lead over Haussler and 2â€™25 over the Boonen group. Well enough to consider final victory.
Geert Steurs eventually made it first to the finish line claiming the longest stage of the 2010 event. It was an emotional moment for the Belgian a year after his former Topsport Vlaanderen team mate Frederik Nolf passed away during the 2009 Qatar event. Third place goes to Germanyâ€™s Kluge approximately 1â€™51 adrift. The golden jersey goes to Wouter Mol who can now enjoy a 9â€ť advantage over Steurs and 2â€™02 over Kluge, while Boonen has to settle for 4th spot at 2â€™05. Former race leader Boasson Hagen is now 42nd overall, at 9â€™33.