Wilfried Cretskens will be flying back to Belgium today a more than satisfied man: at 33, the Quick Step domestique has taken the first ever victory of his career – the overall in the Tour of Qatar.
Friday?s final day of racing saw Cretskens confirmed as overall winner, whilst team-mate Tom Boonen – who else? – took a fourth stage win in a bunch sprint. It was Boonen?s fourteenth win in Qatar – easily a record in an event which only started six years ago.
As is almost traditional now in Qatar, in 2007 Quick Step once more were head and shoulders above the rest of the field. Having got off to the ideal start with the team time trial win last Sunday, just one possible victory escaped them – on Thursday?s stage five when young Predictor pro Greg Van Avermaet stole the show in the one breakaway of the race that succeeded.
However, Quick Step?s Cretskens was also in the same move, and Boonen was more than happy to let his friend and room-mate take over the yellow jersey. The former World Champion finally finished second on general classification.
Friday?s 134 kilometre stage was as predictable as many of its predecessors this time round in Qatar: Belgian Kenny De Haes, Dane Glenn Bak and Frenchman Emilien-Benoit Berges built up a seven minute lead in the Qatar desert before being reeled in ten kilometres from the line: and then it was the sprinters? turn to shine.
Once again, Boonen was the fastest, outstripping Alessandro Petacchi whilst Australian Graeme Brown took third. ?You should never let a chance of winning slip past you.? Boonen said a shade smugly afterwards.
?I came here with pretty low morale.? – following the accusations of doping his team manager Patrick Lefevre faced last week – ?but I?m leaving Doha with just the opposite feeling.?
Big loser of the week was Petacchi, beaten time and again by Boonen. ?I can?t help but recognise Tom is sprinting better than me.? he said, ?but only for now.?