Mark Renshaw again showed HTC-Highroad’s depth of sprinting talent by winning the 2011 Tour of Qatar in addition to yesterday’s stage win.
Renshaw, more usually seen leading out British team-mate Mark Cavendish, kept close rival Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) out of the picture in the final day’s sprint finish to take the gold jersey. Renshaw’s win comes on the back of team-mate Matt Goss’s stage success at the Tour Down Under in January.
Britain’s Roger Hammond (Garmin-Cervelo) finished in fifth place and Jeremy Hunt (Team Sky) in sixth overall, setting themselves up for a strong Spring Classics campaign.
Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Neri) took a surprise win in the strung-out finale in Doha, out-sprinting Francesco Chicchi (Quick Step) on the opposite side of the road. Guardini won five stages of the Tour de Langkawi earlier this year, but his win in Qatar will now have brought the 21-year-old Italian to the attention of some of the world’s best sprinters.
Team Sky Brit Russell Downing finished in eighth place on the stage.
Earlier, Gediminas Bagdonas (An Post-Sean Kelly) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) had launched a spirited escape and kept the bunch at bay until the final six kilometres when the pace was wound up by the sprinters’ teams.
Although Haussler narrowly missed out on taking the general classificaition, he came away with the sprint classification for the second year running as consolation. His Garmin-Cervelo squad also netted the team prize. QuickStep’s Nikolas Maes scooped best young rider.
Tour of Qatar 2011, stage five: Sealine Beach Resort to Doha Corniche, 126.5km
1. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Farnese Vini-Neri in 2-44-06
2. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Quick Step
3. Theo Bos (Ned) Rabobank
4. Dominique Rollin (Can) Francaise des Jeux
5. Roger Kluge (Ger) Skil-Shimano
6. Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Katusha
7. Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Astana
8. Russell Downing (GB) Team Sky
9. Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Garmin-Cervelo
10. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen all same time
Final overall classification
1. Mark Renshaw (Aus) HTC-Highroad in 15-31-04
2. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin-Cervelo at 8secs
3. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Leopard-Trek at 17secs
4. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Team Sky at 26secs
5. Roger Hammond (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at 38secs
6. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Team Sky at 39secs
7. Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Garmin-Cervelo at 42secs
8. Bernhard Eisel (Aut) HTC-Highroad at 1-05
9. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing at 1-33
10. Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quick Step at 1-35
Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin-Cervelo
Best young rider
Nikolas Maes (Bel) Quickstep
Andrea Guardini takes the final stage win
Final podium (l-r): Heinrich Haussler, second; Mark Renshaw, winner; Daniele Bennati, third
Tour of Qatar 2011: Related links
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Tour of Qatar 2011: Stage reports