By Gregor Brown in Doha, Qatar
American Chad Beyer of BMC Racing closed his first professional race, the Tour of Qatar, with 104 kilometres of time in a breakaway. The 22-year-old attacked the group of overall race leader Tom Boonen with five others in stage six Friday, getting plenty of time out front to gain experience and get noticed. Ultimately the break was caught and Mark Cavendish took the stage win, but Beyer was pleased with the day.
"I was feeling pretty good at first, but I was kind of hurting on the finishing laps," said Beyer to Cyclingnews.
The Tour of Qatar was his first race of the season with the Professional Continental team BMC racing of John Lelangue. The team competed alongside 16 other teams from Europe and Asia.
Beyer made the move with familiar faces: Team AG2R La Mondiale's Gatis Smukulis, with whom he raced in the Under-23 ranks, and Servais Knaven, who he might have seen on television if he had watched the 2001 Paris-Roubaix.
"It was hard, there was a lot of wind. It was a good experience racing with these guys." Beyer finished the race 89th overall.
The Tour of Qatar provided valuable skills for Beyer. He plans to take the lessons learnt to the USA for National Racing Calendar series events. He will travel east again this summer for Picardie. His schedule could also include the Tour of Ireland, Franco-Belge and Paris-Tours.