Mark Cavendish sprints to victory on stage three of the Tour of Qatar
By Matt Westby. Last Updated: February 6, 2013 3:48pm
Mark Cavendish claimed his second win of the season with an impressive sprint victory on stage three of the Tour of Qatar.
The Manxman outpaced Vacansoleil-DCM's Barry Markus and Orica-GreenEDGE's Aidis Kruopis and, having claimed 10 bonus seconds, now moves up to fourth in the general classification, eight seconds behind leader Brent Bookwalter (BMC).
Cavendish was forced to leave his Omega Pharma - Quick-Step team-mates behind after they had used up all their reserves leading the peloton into what was a frantic final few kilometres.
However, he jumped on to the back of former Team Sky colleagues Luke Rowe and Edvald Boasson Hagen for a short pull, before launching his sprint with around 350m to go.
Kruopis looked to have enough of an advantage to hang on, but Cavendish kicked for a second time and won by a bike length and a half.
The 27-year-old said: "It was really chaotic in the final stages. I lost my last lead-out man and I just had Niki Terpstra taking me into the final kilometres.
"There were so many lead-out teams. It became chaos. I saw Luke Rowe and Boasson Hagen on the right and I know how good Luke is, so I thought 'that's the wheel I want to be on' and went over.
"With 350m to go, I was 12 guys back and I had to go. Like always, I had the second kick.
"I was really happy with the guys all day. They kept me sheltered. I'm really happy with that."
Stage three saw the peloton ride two-and-a-third laps of a triangular-shaped circuit between Al Wakra and Mesaieed on a route totalling 143km.
Team Sky's Mathew Hayman joined a breakaway group in a bid to pick up bonus seconds at intermediate sprints, but they were reined in with around 30km to go and Omega Pharma - Quick-Step promptly took up station on the head of the peloton.
However, as the race entered the final 8km, various sprinters' teams began pushing their way to the front and Quick-Step found themselves swallowed up.
Team Sky's Boasson Hagen looked handily placed, but when Kruopis stole an early march, Cavendish swung out and powered past his rivals to claim a well-executed win.
Overall victory hopes
Despite now being within sight of the lead of the race, he played down his chances of claiming overall victory.
He added: "Anything can happen in this race. You have to take every day as it comes. I know I can make it every time in the front echelon, but things can happen.
"I'm not saying it's out of the question, but we will see what happens."
Bookwalter crossed the line safely in the main bunch to retain his overall lead, while Britain's Adam Blythe remains third.
1 Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, 3:05.14; 2 Barry Markus (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM, same time; 3 Aidis Kruopis (Lit) Orica-GreenEDGE, st; 4 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ, st; 5 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling, st; 6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky, st; 7 Roger Kluge (Ger) NetApp-Endura, st; 8 John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos-Shimano, st; 9 Filippo Fortin (Ita) Bardiani Valvole - CSF Inox, st; 10 Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) FDJ, st
1 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC, 6:49.58; 2 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC, +6secs; 3 Adam Blythe (GB) BMC, +7; 4 Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +8; 5 Greg van Avermaet (Bel) BMC, +10; 6 Michael Schar (Sui) BMC, +10; 7 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky, +11; 8 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Team Sky, +12; 9 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky, +14; 10 Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky, +15