Used to leading out the sprints for his team mate Mark Cavendish, Mark Renshaw did the job on his own, as he flew to the dayâ€™s stage 4 victory. The Australian also takes command of the overall classification, capturing the Golden jersey from former race leader Heinrich Haussler.
Warm temperatures, a bright sunshine and lighter winds welcomed the riders for the dayâ€™s fourth and penultimate stage of the Tour of Qatar: a 153.5kms ride all the way to Al Kharaitiyat. And it didnâ€™t take long for the remaining 118 men to reach the start of the race, as the line was set on the parking facilities of the Ritz-Carlton hotel where they stay for the entire event.
After 8 kilometres, 11 riders broke away from the pack: Robert (QST), Smukulis (THR), Bole (LAM), Veelers (SKS), Murphy (BMC), Geslin (FDJ), Vaitkus (AST), Florencio (GEO), Visconti (FAR), Eeckhout and Fenn (both SKT). The gap grew to a maximum 1â€™ at km 25. At the first intermediate sprint (km 36.5), claimed by Florencio ahead of Fenn and Vaitkus, the pack had closed in, 15â€ť behind. A kilometre later, it was over for the escapees as the pack bunched up again.
At kilometre 45, twenty riders managed to break away. In the leading group were the likes of Steegmans (QST), Hondo (LAM), Weylandt (LEO), Rasch (GRM), Burghardt (BMC) and, again Vaitkus and Visconti. The front pack enjoyed a lead of 1â€™15 at km 50 and a maximum 2â€™ at km 68, as the peloton started moving closer, led by the FDJ and SKY teams.
The second bonus sprint (km 120.5) was won by Rasch ahead of Steegmans and Hondo, while the golden jersey pack with 40 riders left in it, was 40â€ť adrift. The leading bunch was eventually caught with under 20 kilometres to go. After riders like Cancellara (LEO) and Cavendish (THR) dropped out of the front group, 30 men were left to battle it out.
At km 140, Marteen Tjallinghi (RAB) tried his luck. He enjoyed a lead of 20â€ť over the pack with 10 kilometres to go, but was finally caught by the favourites. The decision was to be made after another sprint between the top guns. Twice second and once third, Mark Renshaw (THR) finally captured his first stage success in Qatar. The Australian beat Bennati (LEO) and Boonen (QST) to the line.
Thanks to his stage success and the bonus seconds going with it, Renshaw also claims the overall leaderâ€™s Golden jersey, now enjoying a 6â€ť advantage over former race leader Heinrich Haussler who however keeps the Silver pointsâ€™ jersey. Nikolas Maes remains the best young rider of the event.