Mark Cavendish went for an early sprint in the Tour of Qatar this afternoon, launching himslf through a gap a little under half a kilometre from the line to take his second stage of this week's race and leave his rivals standing in what was a hard-fought and somewhat scrappy finish. Daniel Oss of Liquigas-Cannondale finished second, with his team mate Peter Sagan third. Tom Boonen retains the overall lead and barring misfortune will seal his fourth win in the race he has made his own on tomorrow's final stage.
In today's 160km stage from the Camel Race Track to Al Khor Corniche, two escapees, the Polish rider Maciej Bodnar of Liquigas-Cannondale and the Belarus champion Aliaksandr Kuchysnski of Katusha were caught with 10 kilometres to go as the sprinters' teams started jostling for position ahead of the finale.
Coming into the final three kilomteres, Rabobank and Farnese Vini - minus Pippo Pozzato who had crashed earlier and has subsequently confirmed he has broken his collarbone - were at the front with teams behind them fighting for their places ahead of a tricky roundabout that had to be negotiated 1.3km from the line.
Garmin led the peloton through that final obstacle, but almost immediately Team Sky's Juan Antonio Flecha hit the front, looking to set up Cavendish, the Manxman appreciative of his team mates' work, TV footage catching him greeting them with the words "F*cking nice job, lads" as he met up with them after the finish.
Afterwards, a slightly more composed Cavendish said: "The guys took it in turns to come up and keep me sheltered up at the front - I always had one of them with me at every point in those last kilometres and that was incredible.
Quoted on the Team Sky website, he continued: "The wind was a real factor at the end and was changing direction a lot so you couldn’t really do a big lead-out train. It was a scrap and everyone was pretty fresh. With the tailwind I could go from around 250-300 metres out and I just carried it to the line.
"It’s nice to get two wins," he added. "I won two stages here in 2009 and that was one of my most successful seasons so it’s good to get off to a great start with Team Sky and in the world champion’s jersey."
Tour of Qatar Stage 5 Result 1 CAVENDISH Mark SKY PROCYCLING 3h 30' 40" 2 OSS Daniel LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE All at same time 3 SAGAN Peter LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE 4 DEGENKOLB John PROJECT 1T4I 5 SELIG Rüdiger KATUSHA TEAM 6 DAVIS Allan GREENEDGE CYCLING TEAM 7 DEMARE Arnaud FDJ-BIGMAT 8 GUARDINI Andrea FARNESE VINI-SELLE ITALIA 9 GALIMZYANOV Denis KATUSHA TEAM 10 HENDERSON Gregory LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM 11 RENSHAW Mark RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM 12 SIEBERG Marcel LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM 13 BOONEN Tom OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP 14 FARRAR Tyler GARMIN - BARRACUDA 15 KEMPS Aaron CHAMPION SYSTEM 16 KRISTOFF Alexander KATUSHA TEAM 17 RAST Gregory RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 18 NAVARDAUSKAS Ramunas GARMIN - BARRACUDA 19 NIZZOLO Giacomo RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 20 KRUOPIS Aidis GREENEDGE CYCLING TEAM Tour of Qatar overall standings after Stage 5 1 BOONEN Tom OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP 13h 21' 30" 2 FARRAR Tyler GARMIN - BARRACUDA + 00' 31" 3 FLECHA Juan Antonio SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 34" 4 STEEGMANS Gert OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP + 00' 36" 5 EISEL Bernhard SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 45" 6 VEELERS Tom PROJECT 1T4I + 01' 00" 7 CAVENDISH Mark SKY PROCYCLING + 01' 05" 8 CANCELLARA Fabian RADIOSHACK-NISSAN + 01' 06" 9 NAVARDAUSKAS Ramunas GARMIN - BARRACUDA + 01' 09" 10 KRUOPIS Aidis GREENEDGE CYCLING TEAM + 01' 10"
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.