Belgian Tom Boonen claimed this 11th edition of the Tour of Qatar. An overall leader ever since day one, the Omega Pharma - Quickstep leader wins the event for the fourth time, beating Farrar and Flecha. The final stage on the Doha corniche went to promising French rider Arnaud Demare who wins his very first pro race at the age of 20.
At the start of the 6th and final stage of the Tour of Qatar, Golden jersey Tom Boonen (OPQ) could count on a 31" advantage over main rival Tyler Farrar (GRM). In other words, it was looking good for the Belgian in his quest for a fourth crown. But on a cycling race anything can happen, especially with the wind blowing through the pack at the start, south of Qatar.
The 117 remaining riders took off at a very fast pace making the best of a strong tailwind. The pack rapidly broke up into several groups with all the main favourites in the first bunch of 50 or so riders. But despite the speed (55.4kms covered during the first hour) things settled down after 25kms. The first bonus sprint (km 38.5) was claimed by Farrar (GRM), gaining 3 extra seconds on Boonen, ahead of Steegmans (OPQ) and Flecha (SKY).
Just a few kilometres later, seven riders managed to break away: Tjallinghi (RAB), Lodewijck (BMC), Gallopin (RNT), Marangoni (LIQ), Mouris (GEC) Ladagnous (FDJ) and Ojavee (CSS). Their lead went from 40" at km 47 to a maximum 2’20 at the second passsage on the line of the 6-kilometre final circuit on the Doha Corniche (10 laps). The second intermediate sprint (km 78.5) was won by Lodewijck ahead of Gallopin and Ladagnous while the pack remained 1’20 adrift.
The front seven were finally caught at km 105. The pack remained bunched all the way to the final straight were a royal sprint would take place. Winner of two stages this week, World champion Mark Cavendish suffered a crash, leaving the others to battle it out. Another 2011 World champion but in the U23 class, Arnaud Demare (FDJ) flew to his very first professional victory. The Frenchman beat Galimzyanov (KAT) and Renshaw to the line.
Fifteenth of the stage, Tom Boonen wins the general classification. The Belgian conquers his fourth crown in Qatar. In the final overall standings, the 31-year-old has a 28" lead over Farrar and 33" over Flecha. Boonen also wins the points’ classification while Navardauskas finishes best young rider of the event.