Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
AFP / Yuzuru Sunada
Feb 12, 2014 – Belgium’s Tom Boonen, swept along by high winds, claimed the Tour of Qatar’s fourth and penultimate stage on Wednesday by a matter of centimeters from Germany’s Andre Greipel. The Omega Pharma rider, who also took Monday’s second stage, moved up from fourth to second, 17 seconds adrift, behind his teammate Niki Terpstra in the overall standings with only Thursday’s fifth and final stage remaining.
Boonen won the blustery 135 kilometer ride from Dukhan to Mesaeeid in a tight bunched sprint finish, denying Greipel by just five centimeters, with Barry Markus of the Netherlands in third.
The riders were pushed by the strong winds on their backs to produce a super fast average pace of 56.8kph. The stage finished 35 minutes quicker than forecast, catching among others catering staff in the riders’ village unawares.
This was the 33-year-old Boonen’s 22nd stage win in Qatar where he’s seeking to add to his previous wins in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012.
After a tiring day’s riding the evergreen Belgian commented: “With this wind on your back we were really made to suffer. To control the peloton which is going so fast is no easy thing to do. Once again we’ll sleep well tonight.”
French sprinter Arnaud Demare, who came in seventh, added: “Our legs were sometimes doing 110 turns per minute”
Boonen’s performance here this week has proved he is back in form after missing the second half of last season, including the world championships in Florence, with a saddle injury.
“I really like the 2014 Boonen as it takes after the 2012 model (Boonen won four races in 2012),” said Omega Pharma manager Patrick Lefevere.
The race concludes Friday with a 159km ride from Al Zubara Fort to Madinat Al Shamal.
Feb 12, 2014 – Results of the Tour of Qatar fourth stage: 135km Dukhan to Mesaieed on Wednesday:
1. Tom Boonen (BEL/Omega Pharma) 2hr 22min 34sec
2. Andre Greipel (GER) s.t.
3. Barry Markus (NED) s.t.
4. Aidis Kruopis (LIT) s.t.
5. Sam Bennett (IRL) s.t.
6. Jacopo Guarneri (ITA) s.t.
7. Arnaud Démare (FRA) s.t.
8. Michael Vn Staeyen (BEL) s.t.
10. Barnhard Eisel (AUT) s.t.
1. Niki Terpstra (NED/Omega Pharma) 9hr 19min 38sec
2. Tom Boonen (BEL) at 17s
3. Jurgen Roelandts (BEL) 20
4. Ian Stannard (GBR) 37
5. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL) 47
6. Michael Morkov (DEN) 48
7. Marcel Sieberg (GER) 51
8. Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL) 1:00
9. Karsten Kroon (NED) 1:21
10. Philippe Gilbert (BEL) 1:23