Kristoff takes second Tour of Qatar win on stage 4

Alexander Kristoff won stage 4 of the Tour of Qatar, as his Katusha team again dominated the sprint, providing him with a perfect lead out and allowing him to set up a shot at overall victory on Friday’s final stage.

Kristoff beat Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) to the line, with his teammate Jacopo Guarnieri taking third place and the final time bonus. Sam Bennett (Bora Argon 18) finished fourth and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) was fifth as the peloton split under the huge effort of the Katusha team into a crosswind in the final kilometre.

Race leader Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) suffered a double puncture in the final 10 kilometres of the stage and, after changing a front wheel and then his bike, he lost contact with the front group. He chased hard with several teammates but became stuck in the big chase group as the LottoNL-Jumbo, BMC and then Katusha teams gave it everything at the head of the front group of 25 riders.

Boasson Hagen lost 45 seconds and his race lead. Cavendish took the gold jersey but Van Avermaet is now only two seconds back, with Kristoff fourth overall at just 9 seconds. Boasson Hagen slipped to fifth at 19 seconds.

Friday’s fifth and final stage is 114km long and finishes on the Doha Corniche. With time bonuses up for grabs in two intermediate sprints during the 10 laps of the Doha Corniche, and again at the finish, every second will help decide the overall winner of this year’s race.

"The team did a really good job in the final kilometre, putting me with really good speed into the sprint," said Kristoff in a post-race interview. "For me it was just to finish it off and keep the other guys behind me. I knew Cavendish was there but I think he was stuck a bit behind so it went perfectly for our team.

"It [the general classification] will be decided tomorrow. Cavendish is leading the race and he is not a slow man, so if it comes down to bonus seconds I think, if he's not unlucky, he will protect his lead, but it is quite open."

How it happened

Stage 4 was the longest stage in this year’s Tour of Qatar, with the riders facing 189km of racing. The stage started at the Al Zubarah Fort on the west coast of the peninsula and then completed a loop inland, with the Al Ghuwairiya the turning point for a long ride north to Madinat al Shamal on the tip of the country. After a further loop, the riders faced four laps of a 14km finishing circuit.

Fortunately for the peloton, the deserts winds were not blowing very strong today, producing a more relaxed and safer day of racing. However, the racing started fast, with the peloton splitting under the pressure and several punctures making for a hectic start.

The break of the day formed after 30km of racing with 11 riders in the move. The peloton let them go clear but then Dimension Data, BMC and Katusha lead the chase and kept the gap under two minutes. BMC split the peloton into three groups after the first intermediate sprint as the road turned right but the wind was not strong enough to create huge gaps and the peloton came back together with 90km to go.

Gretsch lead the quartet through the second intermediate sprint but they were all focused on working smoothly together rather than chasing points or time bonuses. However, the peloton was also on a roll and Dimension Data gradually pulled the four back as they rode to protect Boasson Hagen and to set up Cavendish for the sprint. The gap was just over a minute with 25km to go.

A crash saw Thomas Koep (Stölting Service Group) go down hard and raised the tension in the peloton. The LottoNL-Jumbo team also went to the front as they noticed the wind was now strong enough to cause problems for the riders fighting for position behind.

With eight kilometres to go, Boasson Hagen suddenly drifted to the back of the peloton. It was a nightmare scenario for the Norwegian: a double puncture.. He got a new front wheel relatively quickly and had teammates with him after they were told via radio. However, he then realised his rear heel was flat too and had to change bikes with a teammate and start his chase again. Mark Renshaw dragged him up to a small group and other teammates helped him with the chase but his rivals knew he was in trouble and raised the speed significantly at the head of the race. First BMC used several riders to try to help Van Avermaet gain time, then Katusha had four riders to lead out Kristoff in the final kilometres.

Cavendish sat tight on the wheels but was alone because his teammates had dropped back to help Boasson Hagen. A side wind in the final kilometre allowed Katusha to put their rivals in the gutter and so the front group split and was scattered in the wind. Cavendish stayed with the leading riders but was not on Kristoff’s wheel. He tried to make his own sprint but faded in the wind and finished out of the time bonuses. Van Avermaet was on Kristoff’s wheel but there was nothing he could do against the Norwegian’s power and Kristoff took his second stage of this year’s Tour of Qatar.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha3:57:12
2Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 1 - Cell 2
3Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Team KatushaRow 2 - Cell 2
4Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18Row 3 - Cell 2
5Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension DataRow 4 - Cell 2
6Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 5 - Cell 2
7Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team Katusha0:00:06
8Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Giant-Alpecin0:00:08
9Moreno Hofland (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:00:09
10Michael Morkov (Den) Team KatushaRow 9 - Cell 2
11Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 10 - Cell 2
12Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 11 - Cell 2
13Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Team Katusha0:00:13
14Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre - Merida0:00:14
15Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept0:00:18
16Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Bora-Argon 18Row 15 - Cell 2
17Rudiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Argon 18Row 16 - Cell 2
18Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 17 - Cell 2
19Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 18 - Cell 2
20Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:00:20
21André Looij (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton0:00:29
22Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:00:34
23Timo Roosen (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 22 - Cell 2
24Wesley Kreder (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton0:00:36
25Brian Van Goethem (Ned) Roompot - Oranje PelotonRow 24 - Cell 2
26Kenny De Haes (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:00:45
27Amaury Capiot (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 26 - Cell 2
28Michael Carbel Svendgaard (Den) Stölting Service GroupRow 27 - Cell 2
29Marco Canola (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling TeamRow 28 - Cell 2
30Tim Declercq (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 29 - Cell 2
31Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 30 - Cell 2
32Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 31 - Cell 2
33Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 32 - Cell 2
34Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension DataRow 33 - Cell 2
35Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 34 - Cell 2
36Xhuliano Kamberaj (Alb) Skydive DubaiRow 35 - Cell 2
37Ruslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 36 - Cell 2
38Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Lampre - MeridaRow 37 - Cell 2
39Daniel Eaton (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling TeamRow 38 - Cell 2
40Dmitrii Kozonchuk (Rus) Team KatushaRow 39 - Cell 2
41Soufiane Haddi (Mar) Skydive DubaiRow 40 - Cell 2
42Marko Kump (Slo) Lampre - MeridaRow 41 - Cell 2
43Luka Pibernik (Slo) Lampre - MeridaRow 42 - Cell 2
44Joseph Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 43 - Cell 2
45Simone Antonini (Ita) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 44 - Cell 2
46Robin Stenuit (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 45 - Cell 2
47Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La MondialeRow 46 - Cell 2
48Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 47 - Cell 2
49Shane Archbold (NZl) Bora-Argon 18Row 48 - Cell 2
50Scott Thwaites (GBr) Bora-Argon 18Row 49 - Cell 2
51Johan Vansummeren (Bel) AG2R La MondialeRow 50 - Cell 2
52Nils Politt (Ger) Team Katusha0:00:55
53Andrea Palini (Ita) Skydive DubaiRow 52 - Cell 2
54Steven Tronet (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 53 - Cell 2
55Brenton Jones (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling0:00:56
56Luke Keough (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling TeamRow 55 - Cell 2
57Ivar Slik (Ned) Roompot - Oranje PelotonRow 56 - Cell 2
58Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Argon 18Row 57 - Cell 2
59Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 58 - Cell 2
60Sébastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 59 - Cell 2
61Boris Vallee (Bel) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 60 - Cell 2
62Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 61 - Cell 2
63Grzegorz Stepniak (Pol) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 62 - Cell 2
64Adil Jelloul (Mar) Skydive DubaiRow 63 - Cell 2
65Tim Kerkhof (Ned) Roompot - Oranje PelotonRow 64 - Cell 2
66Artyom Zakharov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:01:05
67Jesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton0:01:07
68Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing TeamRow 67 - Cell 2
69Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 68 - Cell 2
70Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team0:01:10
71Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre - MeridaRow 70 - Cell 2
72Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 71 - Cell 2
73Federico Zurlo (Ita) Lampre - MeridaRow 72 - Cell 2
74Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin0:01:16
75Bjorn Thurau (Ger) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 74 - Cell 2
76Samuel Spokes (Aus) Drapac Professional CyclingRow 75 - Cell 2
77Bernard Sulzberger (Aus) Drapac Professional CyclingRow 76 - Cell 2
78Berden De Vries (Ned) Roompot - Oranje PelotonRow 77 - Cell 2
79Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-Argon 18Row 78 - Cell 2
80Marco Marcato (Ita) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 79 - Cell 2
81Zico Waeytens (Bel) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 80 - Cell 2
82Benoit Jarrier (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept0:01:20
83Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling TeamRow 82 - Cell 2
84Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) Dimension DataRow 83 - Cell 2
85Twan Castelijns (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:01:23
86Adrian Kurek (Pol) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 85 - Cell 2
87Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Stölting Service GroupRow 86 - Cell 2
88Marco Haller (Aut) Team KatushaRow 87 - Cell 2
89Robert Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:01:26
90Mark Renshaw (Aus) Dimension Data0:01:40
91Mark Mcnally (GBr) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:01:44
92Daniel Mclay (GBr) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 91 - Cell 2
93Matt Brammeier (Irl) Dimension DataRow 92 - Cell 2
94Graeme Brown (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling0:02:59
95Alex Kirsch (Lux) Stölting Service Group0:03:20
96Mads Pedersen (Den) Stölting Service Group0:03:23
97Michael Reihs (Den) Stölting Service GroupRow 96 - Cell 2
98Patrick Gretsch (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale0:04:12
99Tomasz Kiendys (Pol) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 98 - Cell 2
100Vegard Breen (Nor) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 99 - Cell 2
101Jesse Sergent (NZl) AG2R La MondialeRow 100 - Cell 2
102Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 101 - Cell 2
103Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 102 - Cell 2
104Tyler Farrar (USA) Dimension DataRow 103 - Cell 2
105Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro TeamRow 104 - Cell 2
106Floris De Tier (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:05:05
107Maher Hasnaoui (Tun) Skydive DubaiRow 106 - Cell 2
108Mario Costa (Por) Lampre - MeridaRow 107 - Cell 2
109Carlos Alzate (Col) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling TeamRow 108 - Cell 2
110