By Gregor Brown in Doha, Qatar
Danilo Napolitano missed his second career Tour of Qatar stage win by one position Tuesday. The Italian discovered that the tactics of the Belgians – like winner Tom Boonen – gave that extra bit of advantage needed to take the victory in stage three.
"Team Quick Step did well; they had good representation with three men. They are more accustomed to this wind since they are from Belgium," said Napolitano of Team Katusha to Cyclingnews.
The 137.5-kilometre stage from Al Zubarah in Qatar's north to the country's capital city of Doha featured a strong north wind that helped split the race into small groups. Napolitano made the select move of 26 riders with teammates Filippo Pozzato and Denis Galimzyanov.
"I did this race last year and I know that the stages can be windy every day. It is a strange race. In Qatar it is a race of the wind."
Pozzato followed the early move of a Cervélo TestTeam rider in the stage's finale. Napolitano positioned himself well for the sprint behind Boonen.
Steven de Jongh led teammate Boonen to the finish line. Napolitano found himself boxed in when De Jongh's work was finished. He finished second to Boonen and ahead of Jürgen Roelandts (Silence-Lotto) and Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam).
Napolitano also finished second in stage two to Briton Roger Hammond.
The six-stage race, February 1 to 6, continues Tueday with a 141-kilometre stage from Doha to Qatar's north, in Madinat Al Shamal. It will be another flat stage that is suited for the sprinters.