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Spectators at the Tour of Qatar are unlike any other around the globe. (Photo by Tim De Waele.)
Spectators at the Tour of Qatar are unlike any other around the globe. (Photo by Tim De Waele.)

Tour of Qatar, Stage 3: Maintaining Position

9. February 2010

Mesaieed

Marcus Burghardt and the rest of the BMC Racing Team cruised through Tuesday’s third stage of the Tour of Qatar while looking ahead to a move up the overall classification on the race’s final three stages.

Close Call At The Finish

Burghardt took third on the stage’s first intermediate sprint to gain a one-second bonus, then avoided a pile-up during the bunch sprint in the final 200 meters to preserve his team-best fifth place overall. While the crash took down a number of riders, none from the BMC Racing Team were involved. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) earned the stage win ahead of Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo Test Team) in the first field sprint of the race. American John Murphy chased back after a puncture inside the final 10 miles to score a 13th place finish. “It was difficult for him to do the sprint after such a chase back, but he did well,” BMC Racing Team Director Sportif John Lelangue said.

Wind Not So Pesky
Like Stage 2, Tuesday’s 85-mile (136 km) race was highlighted by another two-man breakaway. But unlike Monday’s successful escape all the way to the finish, the move by Steven Van Vooren (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator Pro Cycling Team) and Gatis Smukulis (Ag2R-La Mondiale) was reeled in 25 miles. A lack of wind that marked the opening days of the race helped keep the pair’s advantage from reaching more than two-and-a-half minutes. “We tried to be alert and attentive today, but it was not windy enough to make a selection,” Lelangue said. “So the only thing we did was to protect our riders from the crashes and technical sections.”

Looking Ahead To Stage 4
Wednesday’s 91-mile (146.5 km) race begins at The Pearl, an artificial island off the coast of Qatar’s eastern seaboard, and travels inland and north before looping back to the coastal finish city of Al Khor Corniche. Like two of the previous three stages, fierce desert winds are likely to force splits in the peloton as it traverses nearly pancake-flat terrain. “Tomorrow, we hope to have more wind to help make the selection,” Lelangue said.