Wet sand makes a mess in Qatar

By Susan Westemeyer Milram had their fair share of second places in Qatar, but on the fifth stage,...

By Susan Westemeyer

Milram had their fair share of second places in Qatar, but on the fifth stage, it wasn't the big name Alessandro Petacchi, but the big newcomer, Marcel Sieberg. He was part of the group that got away shortly after the beginning of the race and held its lead until the end.

As the group neared the finish line, there were many attempts to break away and score a win, with riders shooting out and chasing each other down. "As Wilfried Cretskins made his move 400 meters before the finish, I thought to myself, not another one from Quick Step," Sieberg said on his team's website, www.team-milram.de. Handicapped by gear problems, he was able to only bring in a second place behind Greg van Avermaet. "Sure you think about winning. It could have happened. But I can work up to it."

T-Mobile's Bernhard Eisel lost his podium spot on Thursday's stage, dropping from third overall to fourth. But the sprinter was happy that the stage didn't come down to a mass sprint. ""With this weather it would have been even more dangerous with a hectic finale than it usually is. It rains in Qatar only two days a year, and this was one of them," he wrote at www.eisel.com. "There were an unbelievable number of crashes, which was only to be expected by this water-sand mixture."

One team which suffered from the weather was Rabobank, or as the team put it, "The Rabo team was not very fortunate ... with six crashes and various flat tires." Rick Flens was the unluckiest of the crew, going down twice and suffering a flat tire. The worst injury, however, was to Graeme Brown, who hurt his hand in a crash, the team noted on its website, www.rabobank.nl. He received medical treatment after the stage but raced Friday's stage..

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