Qatar 5: McEwen takes final stage

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) stormed to stage victory in Friday's final stage of the Tour of Qata

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) stormed to stage victory in Friday’s final stage of the Tour of Qata

PICTURE BY TDWSPORT.COM (click for larger image) Despite telling procycling earlier in the week that he’d be taking it reasonably easy at the Tour of Qatar, Robbie McEwen shrugged off the jetlag to record his fifth UCI-ranked race win of the season by taking the fifth and final stage of the Tour of Qatar on Friday. Lars Michaelsen kept his leader’s jersey to take the overall victory. The two remnants of the day’s four-man break that went clear just four kilometres into Friday’s 144km final stage – Ag2r’s Yuriy Krivtsov and Rik Reinerik of the Shimano-Memory Corp squad – were reeled in by the peloton with just over a lap to go of the 9km finishing circuit on the Doha Corniche – the Tour of Qatar’s answer to the Tour de France’s Champs Elyses. Overall winner Lars Michaelsen survived a puncture scare on the penultimate lap, his CSC team pacing him back up to the bunch in no time at all, even giving him time to get back up to the front of the bunch, luckily missing a crash at the back of the pack just after the breakaway was caught. The peloton was led into the final kilometre by Thursday’s stage winner Mario Cipollini’s Liquigas team, with Quick Step’s Tom Boonen, winner of the race’s points competition, also in the mix, eventually taking third on the stage. But it was McEwen’s Davitamon-Lotto squad, and in particular US national champion Fred Rodriguez, who took the reins in the closing stages. “The team did a great job today,” McEwen said. “It wasn’t a complicated stage with the break away all day. My guys did well for me – they made it easy for me. It’s a nice way to finish the Tour of Qatar. The scenery hasn’t been all that, but it’s good not to be riding in the freezing temperatures in Europe.” Not really renowned for using a lead-out ‘train’, instead relying on manoeuvring himself onto the right wheels of his rivals, the Australian national champion admitted that “using one is a lot easier”. “As my lead-out man, Rodriguez did a great job thanks to his 54×11 gear he used today,” continued McEwen. “He kept me up there – I didn’t want to get into the wind too early.” And why the lack of celebration when crossing the line? “It was because I was looking at a mark past the finish line today, because of the strong headwind,” McEwen explained. Lars Michaelsen kept his leader’s yellow jersey, despite the last-minute puncture, and will now head to another CSC training camp in Tuscany, Italy, before staring on his programme of spring Classics “It’s always nice to win. And it’s always nice to go into the season with the confidence of a win,” Michaelsen said. “But in a race like the Tour of Qatar, you can’t do it without a strong team,” Michaelsen said, whose CSC squad won the team prize as well as the team’s neo-pro Matti Breschel taking home the blue jersey as best young rider. Results Sealine Beach Resort – Doha Corniche 1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 143.5km in 3.08.06 2 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Ag2r 3 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 4 Steven Caethoven (Bel) Chocolade Jacques 5 Andre Korff (Ger) T-Mobile 6 Wouter Van Mechelen (Bel) Chocolade Jacques 7 Anthony Ravard (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 8 Andre Greipel (Ger) Wiesenhof 9 Erki Putsep (Est) Ag2r 10 Rudi Kemna (Hol) Shimano-Memory Corp Final overall 1 Lars Michaelsen (Den) CSC 2 Matti Breschel (Den) CSC 1.14 3 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) CSC 1.28 4 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 5.17 5 Maarten Tjallingii (Hol) Marco Polo 5.43 6 Thomas Eriksen (Den) CSC 8.50 7 Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) CSC 8 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Liquigas 12.24 9 Manuel Quinzato (Ita) Saunier Duval 12.30 10 Marco Bos (Hol) Shimano-Memory Corp 32.06 Points: Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step Best young rider: Matti Breschel (Den) CSC Team: CSC