Farrar flummoxed by four flats in Qatari finale

Garmin sprinter misses out on stage four

The Garmin-Transitions team avoided the crashes and finished stage four at the Tour of Qatar with six riders, but their bad luck continued as team sprinter Tyler Farrar punctured four times in the last 20km of the stage.

The Garmin team finished a strong second in the opening team time trial on Sunday and looked set to challenge overall and in the sprints with Farrar. However, Steven Cozza crashed out on stage two and broke his collarbone. Then young neo-pro Kirk Carlsen crashed heavily during stage three and broke his collarbone and shoulder.

Martijn Maaskant and Murilo Fischer were also brought down in the crash that took out Cozza. Both crashes were caused by other riders trying to avoid the metal road reflector dots that are often used in Qatar.

On Tuesday Farrar was slowed by the high-speed crash during the sprint on stage three and only finished ninth behind winner Tom Boonen (Quick Step). He was hoping to finally get a clear run to the line today and test his sprinting form but his four flats in the finale meant he finished more than four minutes behind stage winner Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas-Doimo).

"Four flats in 20km is ridiculous. What can you do when that happens?" Farrar said after the stage, fortunately wise enough to laugh about it rather than get upset.

"It was a nice finish and I think it was a good finish for me today. I was motivated but it all went wrong.

"First I flatted with 18km to go. It was easy to get back on because it was a headwind and we were going pretty slow. But then I flatted again with 10km to go. I took [teammate] Murilo Fischer's back wheel and that one was a little harder to get back from. I'd made it back up to the front but then with 4km to go I hit a big hole and flatted both wheels! There was no way back from that.

"Yesterday they crashed in the sprint, today I flatted. Maybe one of these days, I'll get to try in the sprint.

"The only consolation is that at least we all finished upright after losing Steve and Kirk in crashes. That's something at least."

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