There is an Arabian expression which describes a charging stallion as "a drinker of the wind, a dancer of fire" which seems very appropriate to Tom Boonen....
Tour of Qatar – courtesy ASO
The expected mass sprint saw the expected result with “torpedo” Tom Boonen, the 26 year old Belgian fastman, getting the upper hand on arch rival Alessandro Petacchi and the other sprinting contenders for the title of fastest man of the desert.
The bonus seconds he gained for his victory saw Boonen take the overall leader’s golden jersey.
Across the desert lands of Arabia there are many names for the wind; the sirocco, from the Arabic sarq (meaning "east") the Haboob which comes from the Arabic word, "habb", the Nashi, N'aschi, a northeast wind which occurs in winter on the Iranian coast and Sharki, a southeasterly wind which sometimes blows in the Persian Gulf or even the Rabiah, meaning Gentle Wind.
Wether the riders knew the name of the wind today made very little difference to how the race unfurled. An early fall in the peloton and a favourable wind saw first Burghardt (TMO) and De Haes (JAC) try to break away and when they were caught at km 29 Fischer (LIQ) and Pineau (BTL) broke clear and enjoyed themselves at the head of the race building a lead of 2’35 at km 42.
Quickstep and Milram teams were in no mood to let anyone spoil their sprinters day and with these two teams leading the peloton both men were caught at km 58.
With the peloton all together the first intermediate sprint of the day (km 73) was won by golden jersey De Jongh (QST) ahead of Steegmans (QST) and Clerc (BTL). Taking advantage of a drop in pace 5 riders managed again to loose the peloton, Roesems (PRL), De Haes (JAC) and Rooijakkers (SKS) were soon joined by Riblon (A2R) and Muravyev (AST), and these five men working well together built an advantage of 4’15 at km 94.
Naturally the sprinters teams again picked up the pace and theThe sprinter’s teams then started their work with around forty kilometres to go.
With the Milram, Rabobank and Quickstep teams taking control of the pack, a bunched sprint finish was bound to happen. The five riders were all brought back into the bunch with Roesems making a last ditch effort but he was finally caught with 4km, and from then on the Quick Step and Milram trains controlled the finale.
Petacchi, the Italian powerhouse made the first move but when Boonen moved up a gear he proved once again to have the legs over his rivals and sped past the Italian to continue his incredible winning sequence in the desert.
Behind him a major fall occurred in the final metres as Graeme Brown collided with Tom Steels (PRL) who hit the ground. Fortunately the speeding peloton managed to avoid Steels, but the Australian was found guilty of his dangerous move, and was relegated from third spot which Nazon (A2R) was awarded.
T Mobile’s bad luck
"Bernhard Eisel punctured three kilometres from the line and that was the end of his chances," said T Mobile sporting director Tristan Hoffman, who saw his team hit by bad luck. Lead-out man Eric Baumann hit the tarmac midway through the race, while Kim Kirchen suffered the same fate in the finale. "Kim just suffered some road rash. He should be able to continue tomorrow."
"We had a lot of bad luck – it was bad day at the office for us," quipped a frustrated Bernhard Eisel post-race. "But the mood is still good in the camp. Things can only get better in the coming days."
There is an Arabian expression which describes a charging stallion as "a drinker of the wind, a dancer of fire" which seems very appropriate to Tom Boonen.
Indeed, he had an almost Arabian delight in tales of deserts (and of course winds) as he described todays stage
”It was a very strange day. I don’t recall witnessing such a bizarre wind here in Qatar. It made the stage very tricky and tense. Concerning the final sprint, I didn’t want my team mates to start their effort too early. I asked Tosatto and De Jongh to wait until the last moment to start their effort and launch me. I then did the necessary to capture the win. There really is a fierce competition on this Tour of Qatar. My goal isn’t to win all the stages. For the moment, I’m well satisfied with the race. I’m very happy to have won today. I would be happy with my race if it had to stop today.”
The blue jersey for the best young rider is still Milram’s Marcel Sieberg with Francesco Failli of Liquigas just two seconds back.
Badr Banihammad is the best placed local rider.
Stage 3, Tuesday 30th January: Dohat Salwa Khalifa Stadium (140 km)
Stage 4, Wednesday 31st January: Camel Race Track Doha Golf Club (139,5 km)
Stage 5, Thursday 1st February: Al Zubarah Mesaieed (160,5 km)
Stage 6, Friday 2nd February: Sealine Beach Resort Doha Corniche (134 km)
Tour of Qatar – courtesy ASO
Stage Two result :
1. Tom Boonen (BEL, Quick Step-Innergetic) les 135,5 km en 3h01'50" (44,7 km/h)
2. Alessandro Petacchi (ITA, Team Milram) m.t.
3. Jean-Patrick Nazon (FRA, Ag2r Prévoyance) m.t.
4. Kenny Van Hummel (PBS, Skil-Shimano) m.t.
5. Francesco Chicchi (ITA, Liquigas) m.t.
6. Lloyd Mondory (FRA, Ag2r Prévoyance) m.t.
7. Aurélien Clerc (SUI, Bouygues Telecom) m.t.
8. Francisco-José Ventoso (ESP, Saunier Duval-Prodir) m.t.
9. Luciano Pagliarini (BRE, Saunier Duval-Prodir) m.t.
10. Robert Förster (ALL, Gerolsteiner) m.t.
1. Tom Boonen (BEL, Quick Step-Innergetic) en 3h08'13"
2. Steven De Jongh (PBS, Quick Step-Innergetic) à 7 sec.
3. Gert Steegmans (BEL, Quick Step-Innergetic) à 8 sec.
4. Alessandro Petacchi (ITA, Team Milram) à 9 sec.
5. Wilfried Cretskens (BEL, Quick Step-Innergetic) à 10 sec.
6. Marco Velo (ITA, Team Milram) à 15 sec.
7. Marcel Sieberg (ALL, Team Milram) m.t.
8. Fabio Sacchi (ITA, Team Milram) m.t.
9. Alessandro Cortinovis (ITA, Team Milram) m.t.
10. Francesco Chicchi (ITA, Liquigas) à 17 sec.
Tour of Qatar – courtesy ASO