Qatar 2: Boonen best again

Tom Boonen kept his 100 per cent record at this year's Tour of Qatar, taking the second stage to lea

Tom Boonen kept his 100 per cent record at this year's Tour of Qatar, taking the second stage to lea
PICTURE BY TDWSPORT.COM (click for larger image) It was business as usual for Quick Step's Tom Boonen as the Belgian won Tuesday's second stage of the Tour of Qatar. But, unlike his victory in the opening stage, this one was taken from a group of 21 riders - five of whom were his own team-mates. Strong winds barraged the peloton for most of the day's stage, frequently splitting the field into echelons as they battled for shelter. Just after the feed zone at 75 kilometres, a group of 18 riders got clear of the bunch, catching an early breakaway of three riders - Maarten Tjallingii (Marco Polo), Marco Bos (Shimano) and Crdit Agricole's Mads Kaggestad - with 55km left to race. With the front group including Robert Hunter and two Phonak team-mates, Fabrizio Guidi and Lars Michaelsen (both CSC), Davitamon-Lotto's Robbie McEwen and 'Fast Freddy' Rodriguez, and then Boonen and his five team-mates, the only notable absentee when it came to the race's top sprinters was a certain Mario Cipollini. 'Cipo's' Liquigas team-mates worked hard on the front of the chasing group, together with the Saunier Duval squad, and their work was done when Cipollini jumped away with Saunier Duval's Manuele Mori, neo-pro Matti Breschel (CSC), Leon Van Bon of Davitamon-Lotto, Ag2r's Lithuanian national champion Tomas Vaitkus, and Roger Hammond, whose Discovery Channel squad was another of the few teams that weren't represented in the front group. Despite Hammond, Cipollini and Mori working hard to close the gap - which at one point came down to just 30 seconds with four kilometres to go - it was too little, too late, and Boonen's Quick Step team were able to use their strength in numbers to set up their man for the win. "The team was very strong today," Boonen told procycling. "There were so many of us up there because we'd planned the attack. We knew from last year's race that just after the feed was a good time to go, and we had to try twice before we successfully got a gap. "I almost lost actually, because I misread the sign saying 200 metres to go as 300 to go," Boonen revealed, "but I recovered and Guido Trenti was able to give me a great lead-out. "This is an important race for us, as we see it as a chance to try out the team," said Boonen. "You could say it's a rehearsal for the spring Classics." McEwen, third, admitted that it was always going to be tough trying to win against such a strong team: "I tried to get on Boonen's wheel at the end, but found myself behind Guidi. When he didn't start his sprint, I had to try to come around him, but by then it was too late. "But I'm glad I got into the break at all. I could see it was going to go, and actually overheard all the Quick Step guys talking," revealed the Australian national champion, "so I was ready. But I'll just have to try again tomorrow." Results Stage 2, Camel Race Track - Qatar Olympic Committee, Doha 1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 167.5km in 3.59.52 (ave 41.9kph) 2 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) CSC 3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 4 Robert Hunter (SA) Phonak 5 Loyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2r 6 Eric Baumann (Ger) T-Mobile 7 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto 8 Marco Bos (Hol) Shimano-Memory Corp 9 Rony Martias (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 10 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) Phonak Overall 1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 7.44.49 2 Robert Hunter (SA) Phonak 0.14 3 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) CSC 4 Marco Bos (Hol) Shimano-Memory Corp 5 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 0.16 6 Maarten Tjallingii (Hol) Marco Polo 7 Loyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2r 0.20 8 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto 9 Aurelien Clerc (Swi) Phonak 10 Eric Baumann (Ger) T-Mobile
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