Mark Cavendish has taken his third successive stage win in the Tour of Qatar to virtually assure himself of the overall win with just tomorrow’s final stage to come, with a 15 second lead over BMC Racing’s Brent Bookwalter. In contrast to the scrappy finishes of the past two days, Cavendish today got a perfect lead out from his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team and saw off a challenge from Yauheni Hutarovich of AG2R with Aidis Kruopis of Orica-GreenEdge third.
Bernie Eisel, the long time wingman tCavendish but who chose to stay at Team Sky rather than following him to Omega Pharma-Quick Step at the end of last season, joined BMC Racing’s Taylor Phinney in going on the attack and try and loosen his close friend’s grip on the leader’s jersey.
Cavendish had already extended his lead slightly by taking the day’s second intermediate sprint ahead of Eisel, when the Austrian then went on the attack with Phinney and Omega Pharma Quick Step’s Nikki Terpstra, presumably sent along to keep a watchful eye on proceedings.
Phinney, third overall and eight seconds down on Cavendish this morning, presented the biggest threat, potentially getting into the leader’s jersey if he had been able to stay away and take the stage win, with ten bonus seconds on offer.
With Cavendish’s team leading the chase, any threat was annulled ahead of the closing 10 kilometres, although the bonus seconds Eisel took earlier mean he jumps from seventh to fifth overall.
As the stage reached its conclusion Omega Pharma Quick Step kept the tempo high, Tersptra acting as final leadout for Cavendish’s third win in as many days, and his fourth of 2013.
Assuming Cavendish negotiates tomorrow's final stage without mishap, it would be the sixth win in eight years for a Quick Step rider. Tom Boonen, who has missed this year's race as he recovers from surgery on an infected cut, won the overall in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012, while Wilfried Cretskens took the overall in 2007.
Tour of Qatar Stage 5 result 1 CAVENDISH Mark OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP 3h 11' 11" 2 HUTAROVICH Yauheni AG2R LA MONDIALE All at same time 3 KRUOPIS Aidis ORICA GREENEDGE 4 BLYTHE Adam BMC RACING TEAM 5 ROWE Luke SKY PROCYCLING 6 DEGENKOLB John TEAM ARGOS-SHIMANO 7 KRISTOFF Alexander KATUSHA TEAM 8 BOUHANNI Nacer FDJ 9 HAUSSLER Heinrich IAM CYCLING 10 KLUGE Roger TEAM NETAPP-ENDURA 11 APPOLLONIO Davide AG2R LA MONDIALE 12 FORTIN Filippo BARDIANI VALVOLE-CSF INOX 13 COLBRELLI Sonny BARDIANI VALVOLE-CSF INOX 14 VIVIANI Elia CANNONDALE 15 JARC Blaz TEAM NETAPP-ENDURA 16 CANTWELL Jonathan TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF 17 GALLOPIN Tony RADIOSHACK LEOPARD 18 KEUKELEIRE Jens ORICA GREENEDGE 19 TERPSTRA Niki OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP 20 FLECHA Juan Antonio VACANSOLEIL-DCM Overall standings after Stage 5 1 CAVENDISH Mark OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP 13h 30' 59" 2 BOOKWALTER Brent BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 15" 3 PHINNEY Taylor BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 20" 4 BLYTHE Adam BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 22" 5 EISEL Bernhard SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 24" 6 VAN AVERMAET Greg BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 25" 7 SCHÄR Michael BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 25" 8 BOASSON HAGEN Edvald SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 29" 9 ROWE Luke SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 30" 10 THOMAS Geraint SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 30"
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.