Qatar 3: CSC topple Boonen

The Danish CSC team take control of this year's Tour of Qatar with the experienced Lars Michaelsen w

The Danish CSC team take control of this year's Tour of Qatar with the experienced Lars Michaelsen w
PICTURE BY TDWSPORT.COM (click for larger image) Despite being in the day's main breakaway, Belgium's Tom Boonen (Quick Step) finally let someone else have a go at winning a stage, unable to follow the pace when seven riders - five of whom were from CSC - jumped clear of the 17-rider group. While Tuesday's planned attack en masse by Quick Step counted in Boonen's favour, netting him his second stage win in as many days, it was CSC's turn on Wednesday, with six riders going clear, along with 11 others, including Boonen, Robbie McEwen, Fred Rodriguez (both Davitamon-Lotto) and Liquigas' Magnus Backstedt, with 56 kilometres covered. Strong winds, and a much higher pace than the previous two stages, played havoc with the main bunch again, most of whom were content to take things easy once the break built up a strong lead, with the peloton finally coming home 32 minutes down on Michaelsen by the end of the 194km stage. At the 160km mark, five of the six CSC riders - Breschel, Michaelsen, Thomas Eriksen, Giovanni Lombardi and Fabrizio Guidi - along with Rodriguez and Backstedt's Liguigas team-mate Marcus Ljungqvist pulled clear, quickly building up a lead of 3.15 with 20km left to race, with no one prepared, or indeed able, to help Boonen defend his leader's jersey. "I was in the front of the group, when suddenly - boom! - the CSC riders and the other two went clear," Boonen explained to procycling. "I found myself on my own, and had to wait for the rest, and the seven riders' lead just grew." When Michaelsen and Breschel subsequently made their move at the 180km mark, it was a case of two against two, with none of the pair's team-mates prepared to help Rodriguez or Ljungqvist. It was the first time in this year's race that the few, but enthusiastic, spectators weren't treated to a bunch sprint, and experience told for Michaelsen over his fellow Dane. "Matti was also suffering from a bit of cramp in the closing kilometres," Michaelsen told procycling, "so it was only natural that I won." Michaelsen now takes over the leader's yellow jersey from Boonen, with Breschel also taking the blue jersey of best young rider off the Belgian's shoulders. Boonen, though, can be consoled by the fact that he still holds the silver jersey as points leader. Thursday's penultimate stage starts on the north-west coast of the state, making its way 169km back across Qatar to Doha on the east coast, and CSC will have their work cut out trying to control the race in what will again likely be strong winds across the flat desert landscapes. Results Stage 3, Al Wakra - Al Khor 1 Lars Michaelsen (Den) CSC 194km in 4.05.28 (ave 47.4kph) 2 Matti Breschel (Den) CSC 0.02 3 Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) Liquigas 1.20 4 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) CSC 5 Thomas Eriksen (Den) CSC 1.22 6 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto 7 Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) CSC 8 Lars Bak (Den) CSC 5.30 9 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 5.35 10 Laurent Mangel (Fra) Ag2r Overall 1 Lars Michaelsen (Den) CSC 11.50.23 2 Matti Breschel (Den) CSC 1.14 3 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) CSC 1.28 4 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto 1.36 5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 5.27 6 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 5.41 7 Maarten Tjallingii (Hol) Marco Polo 5.43 8 Thomas Eriksen (Den) CSC 8.17 9 Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) CSC 10 Lars Bak (Den) CSC 12.25
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