Boonen 2nd on Stage 3, Keeps Gold Jersey
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team played it smart and made a 30 rider echelon split in Stage 3 of Tour of Qatar. The result was a second place finish for Tom Boonen, and the retention of the gold leader's jersey on Tuesday.
Boonen was led out by his teammates in a front group filled with top sprinters. Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barricuda), who trailed Boonen by three hundredths of a second in the general classification (GC), was in the group.
"The guys did a great job in support of Tom," said Sports Director Wilfried Peeters. "In the sprint perhaps Tom was a little behind but Steegmans did quite a number to take him back to the first positions. In the final also (Nikolas) Maes and (Guillaume) Van Keirsbulck did a good for Tom. Tom has slightly increased his advantage in the overall standings but in the next few days it will still be a battle for the leadership in the general classification. Today the wind wasn't a factor. If the wind picks up we will have more options."
While Boonen may have left a bit early — losing to Team Sky sprinter and road world champion Mark Cavendish — he kept himself in the GC lead.
Van Keirsbulck got some close up television time during the final kilometers, driving the pace for the front group.