With a lot less wind then on the opening days of the Tour of Qatar, it was to be a stage for sprinters. And when it comes to pure speed, there's not much anyone can do against Mark Cavendish and his Omega Pharma Quickstep team. Like on the previous stage, the Brit powered to an impressive win, beating Markus and Guardini to the line. Thanks to his 6th stage success in Qatar, «Cav» takes command of the GC and conquers the Golden Jersey that he'll be wearing for the very first time.
Stage 4: Camel Race Track â€“ Al Khor Corniche, 160 km
139 riders at the start. Sunny, light wind
It's been a tradition now for the last 12 years, the Camel Race Track hosted the start of stage 4. The 139 riders of the Tour of Qatar would have to take on the longest stage of this 12th edition: 160kms of racing all the way to the Al Khor Corniche on the east coast of the peninsula. After 13 kilometres of racing, three men managed to break away: Grivko (AST), Lang (IAM) and Smukulis (KAT). Their lead grew rapidly and reached 6'30 at the first intermediate sprint (km 37) won by Grivko ahead of Smukulis and Lang.
Not too concerned by the escapees, the pack remained 7'15 adrift at km 81. From then on, the gap dropped gradually. The second bonus sprint (km 124.5) was again claimed by Grivko in front of Lang and Smukulis with the peloton 5'15 behind. As several teams took on the chase, the front men's advantage dropped to 3'45 with 25 kms to go and then 1'35 ten kilometres later.
The escapees were finally caught at km 146. The pack remained bunched all the way to the final showdown in Al Khor. With less than one kilometre to go, a crash occurred, throwing to the ground around 15 riders. That, however, didn't prevent Mark Cavendish (OPQ) from powering to his second consecutive stage win. The Brit again beat young and promising Markus (VCD) to the line while Guardini (AST) captured third spot.
Thanks to his 6th success in Qatar, â€śCavâ€ť conquers the Golden Jersey with a 2â€ť advantage over former leader Brent Bookwalter (BMC) and 8â€ť over Taylor Phinney (BMC) who remains best young rider of the race. Added to his new race leadership, Cavendish comforts his lead in the points' and Excellency standings.