Quickstep dominate the race in Qatar, with Boonen dominating the sprints and Wilfried Cretskens the overall
Tour of Qatar – courtesy ASO
After fast starts for the two previous stages, the 126 remaining riders of the Tour of Qatar faced strong winds for all the first part of this final stage. After average speeds of close to 60km/h for the first hour yesterday and on Wednesday, the pack only covered 37.100 km today for the initial 60’. Attempts still occurred in the race lead as 12 riders including the likes of Van Bon (RAB), Joachim (AST) and Pineau (BTL) managed to break away at km 4. Their lead however never exceeded 20” and the front group was caught at km 11. Four kilometres later, Glenn Bak (SKT) took off and was rapidly caught by two other riders: De Haes (JAC) and Berges (AGR). These three men were to enjoy an ever-increasing lead over the pack: 1’40 at km 21, 4’20 at km 28 and then a maximum 7’45 at the first intermediate sprint (km 42) won by Bak ahead of Berges and De Haes.
From then on and as the leading riders entered the circuit on the Doha Corniche for the first of 7 laps, the gap started dropping under the influence of the chasing sprinter’s teams. At km 70, it had gone down to 5’35. The second intermediate sprint (km 79) was won by De Haes ahead of Bak and Berges while the pack moved closer at 4’35.
While the Quickstep boys moved to the front of the pack to start chasing alongside the Milram, Saunier-Duval and Liquigas teams, the advantage of the front three dropped to 3’ at the fourth passage on the line (km 88) and then 1’10 at km 103. Bak was to be caught at km 105 followed by De Haes and Bergés at km 116, as the pack at high speed started preparing for the final bunched sprint. Like on three occasions already this week, Tom Boonen proved to be the fastest to the line claiming this final stage of the event ahead of Alessandro Petacchi (MRM) and Graeme Brown (RAB).
His Quickstep team mate Wilfried Cretskens wins this 2007 Tour du Qatar with an overall lead of 2’09 on Boonen and 2’44 on De Jongh (QST).
Four T-Mobile riders finished in the top ten overall, with Austrian sprinter Bernhard Eisel in fourth overall with Greg Henderson (New Zealand), Andreas Klier (Germany) and Servais Knaven (Netherlands) also finishing in the Top Ten, to make it a satisfactory first week of racing for the magenta team.
"I think it was a satisfactory season opener. The team worked hard throughout, we had riders in all the important breaks and we deserved our four top ten places overall," said T-Mobile Team sporting director Tristan Hoffman. "Unfortunately, a stage win was a bridge too far for us - as it was for most other teams. Tom Boonen and Quick Step were simply too strong."
The Milram Angle
In the final stage of the Tour of Qatar, Tom Boonen was unbeatable once more. The Belgian of Team Quick Step-Innergetic again won the stage from Sealine Beach Resort to Doha Corniche. Alessandro Petacchi and Team MILRAM also presented themselves in great form: The Italian finished second again. Third was Rabobank sprinter Graeme Brown, followed by the Austrian René Haselbacher of Team Astana.
The overall classification was won by Boonen’s team-mate Wilfried Cretskens. A rank within the main group was enough for the Belgian to defend his yellow jersey. Tom Boonen and Steven de Jongh are on ranks two and three of the overall classification.
In the finale Team MILRAM was again amongst the dominating teams. Together with the sprint teams of Quick Step-Innergetic and Liquigas they controlled the race for Alessandro Petacchi. The Italian, once again brought into a first-grade position by his team at the beginning of the final 1000 meters, only had to let Boonen pass. „In this moment, Boonen was just more explosive than I was. He is very strong. But I’m satisfied with my condition and I think I've done good work,“ Alessandro Petacchi said after the race.
At the beginning of the race, a top group of three dominated the events. But in the finale, Kenny de Haes of Team Chocolade Jacques, Glenn Bak of Team Gunn-Newlyn-M.Donnelly and Emilien-Benoit Berges of the French Team Agritubel didn’t have a chance against the sprinters’ superiority
The Quickstep View
Topping the amazing QUICK STEP – Innergetic Team success at the Tour (5 stage wins out of a total of 6) was the leadership of the general classifications gained by Wilfried Cretskens who over the last two stages became a leader.
After having gained yesterday the jersey at the end of a long breakaway, Cretskens’ dream came true today by winning the most important race of his career.
“Today was a very special day – a very satisfied Cretskens said – the Team worked really well for Tom who once again proved to be a fantastic athlete, I was riding with the role of maintaining my jersey. Yesterday I also tried to win the stage but it didn’t work out but I am over the moon with this final victory. Ok, I’ve won but I won’t be changing my habits. My job is that of working for Tom and the other big names in the team and I intend carrying on with this role, but.. I’ll never forget this win and I’ll never forget all of the congratulations received from the team…”
Finishing in second place in the general classifications was Tom Boonen who also won the points classifications and Steven De Jongh finished in 3rd place in the general classifications. Another triumphant result for the QUICK STEP – Innergetic Team.
Tom Boonen commented “A pretty good week is the least we can say concerning the performance of the Quickstep team. We almost managed a full house here, winning almost all there was to win. Toady, I again show that I am the best when it comes to sprints. I am also really happy for my team mate Wilfried Creskens, winner of the event. You know, he rides around 15 000 to 20 000 kms a year to prepare for my sprints so it’s a great reward for him to win a race like this one. He was also there to help me become World Champion in Madrid in 2005
Young and Local rider
The blue jersey for the best young rider was won by Alexandre Pichot who was born in 06/01/1983 in Caen .
The Iranian rider Mehdi Sohrabi was the best placed local rider.
Stage Six result :
1. Tom Boonen (BEL, Quick Step-Innergetic) les 124 km en 2h56'17" (42,2 km/h)
2. Alessandro Petacchi (ITA, Team Milram) m.t.
3. Graeme Brown (AUS, Rabobank) m.t.
4. René Haselbacher (AUT, Astana) m.t.
5. Francesco Chicchi (ITA, Liquigas) m.t.
6. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL, Predictor-Lotto) m.t.
7. Kenny Van Hummel (PBS, Skil-Shimano) m.t.
8. Rieno Stofferis (BEL, Murphy and Gun-Donnelly-Sean Kelly) m.t.
9. Loyd Mondory (FRA, Ag2r Prévoyance) m.t.
10. Romain Feillu (FRA, Agritubel) m.t.
Final General :
1. Wilfried Cretskens (BEL, Quick Step-Innergetic) en 15h50'58"
2. Tom Boonen (BEL, Quick Step-Innergetic) à 2'09"
3. Steven De Jongh (PBS, Quick Step-Innergetic) à 2'44"
4. Bernhard Eisel (AUT, T-Mobile) à 2'52"
5. Gregory Henderson (NZL, T-Mobile) à 3'01"
6. Andreas Klier (ALL, T-Mobile) à 3'08"
7. Leif Hoste (BEL, Predictor-Lotto) à 3'09"
8. Alexandre Pichot (FRA, Bouygues Telecom) à 3'11"
9. Mathew Hayman (AUS, Rabobank) à 3'30"
10. Servais Knaven (PBS, T-Mobile) à 3'44"
Tour of Qatar – courtesy ASO