Friday, February 8, 2013
Mark Cavendish and the S-Works Venge won the Tour of Qatar today in the best way possible, winning his fourth consecutive stage of the race. He sprinted ahead of Yauheni Hutarovich (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Barry Markus (Vacansoleil-DCM) in Doha to take the final golden jersey for team OmegaPharma-Quick Step.
"I'm over the moon," Cavendish explained. "We came here without Tom Boonen, he got injured and put pressure on me! The guys worked and looked after so well, and just delivered every day. I'm happy to bring it home, it's the fifth time the team won the Tour of Qatar overall. I'm happy to be a part of that."
Cavendish won the race ahead of the BMC duo of Brent Bookwalter and Taylor Phinney. His overall victory came thanks to his dominance, four stage wins and the bonus seconds to go along with them.
Qatar marks only the second overall race win for Cavendish in his career. Last year, he won the Ster ZLM Tour.
His win also gave OmegaPharma its sixth overall win in the Middle East. Boonen won in Qatar four times before – 2006, 2008, 2009, 2012. Wilfried Cretskens won in 2007. This year, Boonen had to sit out due to a crash while on a mountain bike in January. Boonen will be back next week in the Tour of Oman.
Boonen's team looked well after its new recruit throughout the week and today was no different. Cavendish had Ilzo Keisse, Martin Velits, Zdenek Stybar, Matteo Trentin, Niki Terpstra, Stijn Vandenbergh and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck.
Terpstra had been the team's last man to lead Cavendish to the finish line, but today Trentin stepped in and delivered.
"It was kind of like Al Khor [stager four]. The wind was coming from the right and I knew a gap would open on the left. I won here in 2009 with the same kind of tactics," Cavendish explained.
The sixth leg started in the Sealine Beach Resort south of Doha. Once in the capital city, the cyclists completed 10 circuits of 6km. Teams Astana, Sky, Argos-Shimano and Cannondale tried to upset Cavendish's train.
"The guys were going, going and going," continued Cavendish.
"The other teams were coming and started winding up with four laps to go, but it's still going to work out the same in the last lap. ... I wasn't too bothered, I kept saying to the team I'd kind of go alone. You can leave it late and come around the left again. That's what I did because I know it was going to right.
"I left it late, used the other lead outs, just move up in the last few hundred meters on the left side and just go."
Cavendish celebrated his fourth stage win in Qatar and golden jersey, awarded by royalty: cycling legend Eddy Merckx and the Emir's daughter.
After the race, Cavendish said he would go home and see his own daughter. He will be licking his wounds as he crashed early in to the stage.
"I was on Brent Bookwalter's wheel and he just came down," Cavendish explained. "Someone said he hit a bidon, but he doesn't even know what happened. I went over, but that's bike racing. I was a bit banged up, but I'm all right, just a bit twisted, but we'll get that sorted."
For more information, photos, and videos of Cav and the rest of Specialzied Racing please visit www.i-am-specialized.com