Belgian cyclist Geert Steurs of Topsport Vlaanderen won Stage 2 of the Tour of Qatar in Doha today, arriving at the finish with Dutchman Wouter Mol, who takes the race leader’s yellow jersey, almost two minutes ahead of the chasing group.
The day-long breakaway gives the two unheralded riders every chance of claiming overall victory when the six-stage race finishes on Friday.
The wind played havoc on the 147km stage, splitting the peloton into a number of smaller groups, and at one point the two escapees had established a lead of 12 minutes over the chasers, led by a 15-strong group including last year’s victor, Tom Boonen of Quick Step, who has won three of the last four editions of the race.
Meanwhile, with Team Sky keeping a low profile following yesterday’s victory in the team time trial, Roger Hammond and Jeremy Hunt showed that there’s British talent elsewhere in the field, with both Cervélo TestTeam riders finishing in the top ten on today’s stage.
Edvald Boasson Hagen, the first Team Sky rider across the line in yesterday’s time trial, lost the yellow jersey – the Tour of Qatar is run by ASO, organisers of the Tour de France, among other races – as the Norwegian missed the first big split in the peloton, then punctured 40km out, one of a whole host of riders to suffer flats during the stage as sand and grit was blown about.
There was further bad news for Team Sky, with Boasson Hagen’s compatriot, Kurt Asle Arvesen, breaking his collarbone after crashing while still in the neutralised zone.
Speaking on the Team Sky website, Arvesen, who abandoned last year’s Tour de France with a similar injury, said: "We were basically just getting ready to start racing when I let a guy go past me but it then got a bit narrow and I lost control of the bike and crashed to the ground. It's really unfortunate to break your collarbone at any time but especially now as I was just getting ready to start my year."
Tour of Qatar Stage 2 Result 1. STEURS Geert TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN 3h 31' 00" 2. MOL Wouter VACANSOLEIL + 00' 00" 3. KLUGE Roger MILRAM + 01' 51" 4. HAUSSLER Heinrich CERVELO TEST TEAM + 01' 54" 5. GILBERT Philippe OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO + 01' 55" 6. HAMMOND Roger CERVELO TEST TEAM + 01' 55" 7. BOONEN Tom QUICK STEP + 01' 55" 8. HUNT Jeremy CERVELO TEST TEAM + 01' 55" 9. NAPOLITANO Danilo KATUSHA + 01' 55" 10.BURGHARDT Marcus BMC RACING + 01' 55" Tour Of Qatar Overall Standings 1. MOL Woute VACANSOLEIL 3h 40' 51" 2. STEURS Geert TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN + 00' 09" 3. KLUGE Roger MILRAM + 02' 02" 4. BOONEN Tom QUICK STEP + 02' 05" 5. BURGHARDT Marcus BMC RACING + 02' 06" 6. GILBERT Philippe OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO + 02' 18" 7. NAPOLITANO Danilo KATUSHA + 02' 18"
8. O’GRADY Stuart TEAM SAXO BANK + 02' 40"
9. FARRAR Tyler GARMIN - TRANSITIONS + 02' 41"
10.VELO Marco QUICK STEP + 02’ 47”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.