Cretskens new leader in Qatar

Quick.Step kept its iron grip on the Tour of Qatar as Wilfried Cretksens finished fifth in stage 5 a

Quick.Step kept its iron grip on the Tour of Qatar as Wilfried Cretksens finished fifth in stage 5 a
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM Tom Boonen's deadlock on stage wins in the Tour of Qatar was finally broken in the fifth stage, as 21 year-old Greg van Avermaet (Predictor) beat his nine breakaway companions in a small group sprint. But the leader's gold jersey did not leave the Quick.Step camp, as Wilfried Cretskens, who placed fifth in the stage, took it over from team captain Tom Boonen. Cretskens had made a bid for the stage win with 1 km to go, but was overhauled by Van Avermaet with 50m to go. Marcel Sieberg (Ger, Milram) and Stphane Poulhis (Fra, Ag2R Prvoyance) rounded out the top three placings. At the finish, a delighted Cretskens realised that he was just one day away from his first stage race win as a pro. "Yeah for me it's also a surprise," he said. "At the start, we talked to each other in the team. It was very important if break went that we had someone in it. We did a good job at the beginning. Everybody tried to be in the break and it was me." Speaking about his closing kilometre attack, which didn't quite have the legs, Cretskens said, "I wanted to win for the team. I tried in the last kilometre, but it was 20 metres too long for getting the stage win." But the leader's jersey and probable overall win tomorrow is "very special" according to the Belgian. "My job is normally working for the team, working for the sprint for Tom. Today is a special day for me." Today's fifth stage was the longest of the race, 160.5 km between Al Zubarah (north west) and Mesaieed (south east). As usual, it was marked by strong crosswinds, and there was a little rain in the air. The start was typically aggressive, and a group of 10 riders managed to establish itself in front of the race at km 40: Wilfried Cretskens (Quick.Step), Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile), Aleksandr Kuschynski and Mauro del Dalto (Liquigas), Maarten Tjallingii (Skil-Shimano), Greg Van Avermaet (Predictor-Lotto), Erki Ptsep (Bouygues Telecom), Marcel Sieberg (Milram), Stphane Poulhis (AG2r) and Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner). The group featured a Quick.Step rider - Cretskens - who was also the best placed on GC at 36 seconds. That took the pressure off Boonen's team to chase, and as Petacchi and Eisel's Milram and T-Mobile teams were also represented, it was left to Saunier Duval to do most of the work. After the break covered 48.4 km in the first hour, it had an advantage of 2'15 over the bunch. The first sprint at km 55 was won by Van Avermaet in front of Da Dalto and Tjallingii, and by that stage, they had 3'50 on the peloton. Boonen punctured after 60 km and had to chase for 20 km before getting back on, as the peloton took advantage of his misfortune. That almost spelled doom for the break, which was just 45 seconds in front after 81 km. Boonen's return to the peloton calmed things down, and the lead grew again. Tjallingii won the second sprint at km 105 ahead of Kuschynski and Krauss, and the bunch was now 5'35 back. The gap increased to 6'10 at km 117 - the maximum lead of the day - but the Saunier Duval chase was unable to make a big impact. The break still had 5'10 over the pack with 20 km to go, and it was clear that they would survive to the finish. Surprisingly, the leaders remained together until the final two kilometres before trying to attack each other. Perhaps it was the 50 km/h pace and the damp, slippery roads that made it difficult, because there was certainly no threat from behind. Da Dalto (Liquigas) was the first to try, but was marked by Van Avermaet. Cretskens was next to try, and his move took some effort by Krauss to close down. The German countered, but didn't have the legs, and as they went into the final kilometre it was the turn of Cretskens to try again. Cretskens opened up a 20 metre gap with the big Dutchman Maarten Tjallingii (Skil) doing most of the chasing work behind, ruining his own chances of the stage victory. But as Cretskens hit the final straight with 200m to go, the sprint wound up behind him, led out by Sieberg and Van Avermaet. Cretskens lasted until 50m left, when Van Avermaert powered past him and home to claim his first victory as a pro. Sieberg was a close second ahead of Poulhis. A small group containing Boonen and most of the top GC riders came in at 2'19, ensuring that Quick.Step kept its deadlock on the top three positions on the general classification. Tomorrow's final stage in the Tour of Qatar is between Sealine Beach Resort and Doha Corniche, over 134 km. Results 1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel, Predictor-Lotto) 3:26:13 2 Marcel Sieberg (Ger, Milram) 3 Stphane Poulhis (Fra, Ag2R Prvoyance) 4 Erki Putsep (Lat, Bouygues Telecom) 5 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel, Quick.Step) 6 Mauro del Dalto (Ita, Liquigas) 7 Kim Kirchen (Lux, T-Mobile) 8 Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr, Liquigas) 9 Sven Krauss (Ger, Gerolsteiner) 10 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned, Skil-Shimano) General classification after stage 5 1 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel, Quick.Step) 12:54:41 2 Tom Boonen (Bel, Quick.Step) 0:02:19 3 Steven De Jongh (Ned, Quick.Step) 0:02:44 4 Bernhard Eisel (Aut, T-Mobile) 0:02:52 5 Gregory Henderson (NZl, T-Mobile 0:03:01 6 Andreas Klier (Ger, T-Mobile) 0:03:08 7 Leif Hoste (Bel, Predictor-Lotto) 0:03:09 8 Alexandre Pichot (Fra, Bouygues Telecom) 0:03:11 9 Mathew Hayman (Aus, Rabobank) 0:03:30 10 Servais Knaven (Ned, T-Mobile) 0:03:44 Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.
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