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The Tour of Qatar peloton during stage 4.
Punctures and crashes make headlines over a tough week
With the 2012 Tour of Qatar now at an end, the teams involved have just three full days to lick their wounds before next week's Tour of Oman gets underway just a short flight away to the east of the Gulf state. And while the form of overall winner Tom Boonen has been the highlight of the week, the mechanics and medical staff have certainly earned their money here.
With the exception of the team trial that occurred on day two, the other five stages have all featured numerous punctures for the riders and several crashes that have left the victims nursing injuries. Mark Cavendish escaped serious injury when he crashed in the finale on the final day, but Farense Vini-Selle Italia's Filippo Pozzato wasn't so fortunate during Thursday's fifth stage when he broke his collarbone in a horrible spill early on.
BMC's Adam Blythe is also nursing a pretty nasty looking gash on his right leg from stage five, a wound that will serve as a reminder of an eventful week. He has had more than his fair share of bad luck here and he suffered a puncture the day before his crash when well placed with 3.2km to go - the incident leaving him tantalisingly close to being able to invoke the 3km rule. The 22-year-old Briton eventually finished in 10th place in the overall GC and only just missed out on the white jersey for best young rider - a solid performance for sure, but one that may have been even better.
"My leg isn't too bad, it looks worse than it is and it's on the mend," he told Cyclingnews on Friday. "I didn’t come out of it too badly so I was lucky. But it hasn’t just been our team that’s been affected by these incidents, it’s all of us. I’ve heard that lots of teams had to ship extra tyres out. It’s just the condition of the roads really. There’s lots of holes in the surface and lots of stones at the side of the roads, and with everyone being in the gutter there’s going to punctures and incidents. You just have to accept it here.
"We've just tried to stay focussed but everyone in the peloton has been a bit nervous, definitely more so than other races. The winds haven’t helped either. Everyone wanted to be at the front and was riding very fast, so it was difficult to stay there."