The OPQS master piece

Stage summary10.02.2014Stage 2- Camel Race Track / Al Khor Corniche

Specialists of the Tour of Qatar, especially on windy stages, the Omega Pharma Quickstep team managed one of the most impressive performances in the history of the race. With all 8 of their riders in the decisive break, with fifty kilometres to go, the Belgian squad went on to capture stage victory thanks to Tom Boonen, while his team mate Niki Terpstra kept his overall leader's Golden Jersey.

The 152 riders of the Tour of Qatar gathered at the Al Sheehaniya Camel Race track for the start of stage 2. On the day's menu: 157.5 kilometres of riding all the way to the Al Khor Corniche and still a lot of wind. Despite several vain attempts, the pack remained bunched until the 13-kilometre mark when the strong men pushed harder and several groups spread apart. Up front: all the main favourites of the Tour. The front group of around 40 riders was finally caught and the pack bunched up together again at kilometre 22 when two men decided to take off: Gilbert (BMC) and Reijnen (UHC). After enjoying a 1'20 advantage, the escapees were caught at km 33.

The first intermediate sprint (km 34.5) was claimed by Maes (OPQ) ahead of Golden Jersey Terpstra (OPQ) and Kruopis (OGE). At kilometre 89, Gatis Smukulis (KAT) tried his luck on his own. The Latvian saw his lead reach 2'20 at km 96. After a right turn and as the pack headed east, the wind again played an essential part in the day's stage and the Omega Pharma Quickstep made the best of it. Indeed after several Tinkoff-Saxo men pushed harder at the front, all eight riders of the Belgian squad managed to be in the front group as the pack broke up.

At the front, 23 men took off and caught Smukulis at km 104. Other than the OPQS riders, the only others to survive were Popovych (TFR), Boom, Wagner (both BEL), Eisel, Rowe, Stannard (all SKY), Guarnieri (AST), Smukulis (KAT), Kruopis (OGE), Bennati, Breschel, Juul Jensen, Kroon and Morkov (TCS). While the second bonus sprint (at km 121.5) was claimed by Roelandts (LOT) ahead of Boonen (OPG) and Terpstra (OPQ), a first chasing group including Greipel (LOT), Gilbert (BMC) and Démare (FDJ) was 25” adrift. Further back, it looked to be all over for Fabian Cancellara (TFR), trapped behind a fall and stranded in a dropped group, 1'45 behind. With 20 kilometres to go, the leaders had a 35” lead over the first group and 3'10 over the Cancellara bunch.

With the Omega Pharma-Quickstep and Belkin teams working perfectly together, the gap remained the same with 5 kilometres to go. Time had come to start considering stage victory. The first attempt came from both Wagner and Boom taking off just before the final straight but they were finally caught at the Red Flame. And there wasn't much to be done against Qatar master Tom Boonen. The Belgian 4-time winner of the event flew to his 21st stage win in the peninsula, beating Morkov and Roelandts to the line.

Seventh of the stage, Niki Terpstra keeps command of his GC leader's Golden Jersey. The Dutchman now has a 5” lead over new Silver Jersey Roelandts and 14” over Boonen. Great Britain's Andrew Fenn becomes the new best young rider of the Tour and will be wearing the White Pearl jersey tomorrow for what should be a decisive time-trial for overall victory.

Stage 2 Camel Race Track / Al Khor Corniche

All about the stage key moments

Jersey wearers after the stage 6

Classifications after the stage 6

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