Tour of Qatar: Tom Boonen sprints to stage four win as Niki Terpstra retains overall lead
Tom Boonen sprinted to victory on stage two of the Tour of Qatar as Niki Terpstra retained the lead.
Last Updated: 12/02/14 4:08pm
Boonen, who also won stage two, narrowly pipped Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) to the line in Mesaieed at the end of a day in which high winds and breakneck speeds caused near-constant splits in the peloton.
Terpstra managed to stay in the front group for almost all of the short, 135km stage and crossed the line at the head of the field to retain his lead at the top of the general classification.
Boonen, who now has a total of 22 Tour of Qatar stage wins to his name, moves up to second overall, 17 seconds behind his team-mate, after collecting a total of 13 bonus seconds at the finish and intermediate sprints.
'Another level of fast'
"It was one of the fastest races of my life," Boonen said afterwards. "I remember a race like this at Paris-Nice a few years ago, but today was another level of fast.
"I let Greipel go because Jurgen Roelandts went early, which forced Greipel to start slow and use energy to increase his speed. So I jumped on his wheel, waited until the last moment and tactically it was a nice sprint."
Britain's Ian Stannard (Team Sky) has climbed to fourth, 37 seconds down on Terpstra overall and 17 seconds adrift of the last place on the podium, currently held by Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol).
The big loser of the day was Lars Boom (Belkin), who had been third overall but punctured in the closing kilometres and has now plummeted to outside of the top 10.
His demise has lifted Britain's Andrew Fenn (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) back up to ninth in the general classification, 1min 8sec off the pace. Ireland's Sam Bennett (NetApp-Endura) also enjoyed a profitable day, sprinting to an impressive fifth on the stage.
The peloton was split into several groups right from the starting flag as riders looked to capitalise on crosswinds by ramping up the pace.
The stage was played out at a frantic average speed of 56kmh and the front two groups on the road only reunited with 7km to go.
That set up a bunch finish and although Greipel looked set to take the win after launching his sprint 200m from the line, Boonen was able to follow and then overtake the German at the death.
Stage four result
1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, 2:22:34
2 Andre Greipel (Bel) Lotto-Belisol, same time
3 Barry Markus (Ned) Belkin, st
4 Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) Orica-GreenEdge, st
5 Sam Bennett (Irl) NetApp-Endura, st
6 Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana, st
7 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ, st
8 Matteo Peluchhi (Swi) IAM Cycling, st
9 Michael Van Staeyen (Ger) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, st
10 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky, st
1 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, 9:19:30
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +17secs
3 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol, +20
4 Ian Stannard (GB) Team Sky, +37
5 Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +47
6 Michael Morkov (Den) Tinoff-Saxo, +48
7 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol, +51
8 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +1:00
9 Andrew Fenn (GB) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +1:08
10 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Tinkoff-Saxo, +1:21