Tour of Qatar 2011, stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson>>

Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) easily took Wednesday’s stage three and the overall lead of the Tour of Qatar after the race was again cut to pieces by blustery crosswinds.

Haussler kicked past Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad) and Daniele Bennati (Leopard-Trek) in the sprint to take his second win in two days and claim the gold leader’s jersey.

Britain’s Jeremy Hunt (Team Sky) and Roger Hammond (Garmin-Cervelo) put in another strong performance, Hunt finished 12th is now fifth overall with Hammond finishing seventh on the stage to match his seventh spot overall.

Previous race leader Tom Boonen (Quick Step) had his work cut out for him, falling victim to a puncture and then struggling in the srtong winds to make contact with a group languishing behind the stage’s front runners.

Boonen could do nothing but watch his lead slip away from him as the front group worked hard to stretch their advantage.

Up front, the 30-odd leaders had their own agenda given that second-placed Haussler and Renshaw both stood to take over the overall classification by putting Boonen out of the picture.

Simon Clarke (Astana) put in a big effort to break free of the lead bunch in the final three kilometres before Bernhard Eisel (HTC-Highroad) decided enough was enough, wound up the pace of the bunch and brought him back in.

Renshaw and Bennati opened up the sprint, but Haussler came around them with enough pace to freewheel across the line, arms aloft.

Boonen rolled over the line over three minutes back.

Briton Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad), still swathed in bandages after his prologue crash, kept in with the lead group until the final five kilometres, when he dropped back eventually finishing 1-33 down on stage winner Haussler.

Earlier in the day Brits Russell Downing (Team Sky) and Andrew Fenn (An Post-Sean Kelly) had been part of a six-man escape group that managed to gain over 12 minutes on the bunch before their efforts were nullified by a combination of the chasing bunch and crosswinds.

Tomorrow the riders take on stage four from West Bay Lagoon to Al Kharaitiyat, 153.5km. The 2011 Tour of Qatar concludes on Friday, February 11.

Results
Tour of Qatar 2011, stage three: Al Wakra to Mesaieed, 150.5km
1. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin-Cervelo

2. Mark Renshaw (Aus) HTC-Highroad
3. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Leopard-Trek
4. Dominique Rollin (Can) Francaise des Jeux
5. Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank
6. Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre-ISD
7. Roger Hammond (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at 30secs
8. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Team Sky
9. Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quick Step
10. Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Katusha all same time
Other
12. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Team Sky at same time

Overall classification after stage three
1. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin-Cervelo
2. Mark Renshaw (Aus) HTC-Highroad at 4secs
3. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Leopard-Trek at 15secs
4. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Team Sky at 18secs
5. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Team Sky at 28secs
6. Dominique Rollin (Can) Francaise des Jeux at 28secs
7. Roger Hammond (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at 30secs
8. Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Garmin-Cervelo at 37secs
9. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team at 42secs
10. Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quick Step at 46secs

Daneiel Bennati escape, Tour of Qatar 2011, stage three

Daniele Bennati heads the escape group flanked by Stuart O’Grady

Ian Stannard and Jeremy Hunt in the escape, Tour of Qatar 2011, stage three

Brits Ian Stannard and Jeremy Hunt on the front

Stamsnijder, Bennati, Weylandt, Tour of Qatar 2011, stage three

Daniele Bennati and Trek-Leopard team-mates in the break

Heinrich Haussler wins, Tour of Qatar 2011, stage three

Heinrich Haussler takes the win for the second day running

Tour of Qatar 2011: Related links

Heinrich Haussler: Rider Profile

Tour of Qatar 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

Tour of Qatar 2011: Latest news
Haussler delighted by first win in seven months
Hunt and Hammond move up in Qatar
ASO enforces race radio ban in Qatar
Cavendish has second bad fall of season in Tour of Qatar
Dowsett aiming for Tour of Qatar prologue

Tour of Qatar 2011: Stage reports

Haussler wins stage two

Boonen wins opening road stage and takes lead

Prologue: Boom wins Tour of Qatar opener

Tour of Qatar 2011: Photo galleries

Stage two gallery

Stage one gallery

Prologue photo gallery