After two very unlucky days, British speedster Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad) finished first in Qatar ahead of Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo Test Team) and Tom Boonen (Quick-Step).
Monday saw a group containing race favorite Boonen and eventual stage winner Roger Hammond (Cervelo Test Team) cross the line roughly two minutes ahead of the Cavendish group. Yesterday, the Brit flatted in the final two km and watched as Boonen powered to a stage win.
Today, the tables turned, as the peloton approached this finish in Madinat Al Shamal. Strong crosswinds again split the peloton into many groups.
The first of these groups contained the heavy hitters like Boonen, Haussler, Cavendish, Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) and Robert Forster (Milram).
Boonen opened up the sprint with Cavendish glued to his wheel. The cross winds pushed the riders toward the right side of the road.
Cavendish nearly went into the curb as Boonen sat up, realizing he started his sprint too early. With Boonen sitting up several meters from the line, both Cavendish and Haussler made it around for first and second, respectively.
Pozzato finished fourth, and Forster rounded out the top five.
There wasn't only chaos in the sprint. Those strong crosswinds caused several crashes on the day.
Riders involved include: Vicente Reynes Mimo (Columbia-Highroad), Johan Van Summeren (Silence - Lotto) and Mauro Da Dalto (Lampre - NGC). The worst was Korean rider Sung Baek Park, who was taken away via ambulance.
Tomorrow's stage is a 147.5-km race running from the Camel Race Track to the Qatar Foundation.
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