Tour of Qatar Stage 5: Terpstra Maintains Race Lead on Hectic Day, Boonen 4th!
Etixx - Quick-Step rider Niki Terpstra will wear the Gold jersey for the race lead on the final day of Tour of Qatar tomorrow, but that accomplishment was far from easy for the Dutch rider.
In a hectic 153km Tour of Qatar Stage 5 on Thursday, Niki Terpstra had to claw his way back into the front group more than once due to winds and aggressive tactics by other teams. The first potential threat to Terpstra's leadership was the race splitting earlier in the stage, and Terpstra having to work his way back into the peloton as the winds calmed.
There was also Matthew Hayman (Orica-GreenEDGE) being in the breakaway that had a 2'35" gap at one point, when the time difference from Hayman to Terpstra in the GC was only 1'16" going into the stage. But that breakaway threat was chased back and neutralized going into the final lap of 14 kilometers. Terpstra was surrounded by several teammates as a sprint was anticipated.
However, Katusha had other plans with Alexander Kristoff on the front. They pushed the pace and forced a gap along with several other riders with 5km to go. Only 10 riders made the move including Tom Boonen and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck. Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff-Saxo) was also in the move, and he was 2nd to Terpstra in the GC by only seconds. But riders of the peloton were able to catch back to the group going into the final kilometer, including Terpstra in Gold.
Kristoff won the stage over Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Sagan) in a bike throw. Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) was 3rd, and Boonen was 4th after a long day of racing for the whole team. Boonen launched 5th wheel in the sprint, but was unable to close the distance on the right side to challenge the stage.
Terpstra protected his race lead and maintains a 6" GC advantage over Bodnar, and 11" over Kristoff.
The final Tour of Qatar stage, 124.5km in distance from Sealine Beach Resort to Doha Corniche, will surely be action packed with teams wanting to prevent Terpstra from winning his second straight Tour of Qatar overall.
"Once the group went away in the final kilometers I kept hoping that when it came to the sprint, people would start looking at each other, with Kittel in our group chasing," Terpstra said. "Luckily we chased them down in the last kilometer. With the crosswinds and the wide roads, it can be difficult. Some riders will fit into the move and some will not, and if you are not in the front group you are unlucky. But it worked out in the end for me. Now we have to see again tomorrow. For sure Kristoff will try to go for another stage and he is also 3rd in the GC, so it will be some hard work ahead of us with also intermediate sprints there for time bonuses. But I will do my best to try to win my second straight Gold jersey with the help of my teammates."