The second stage of the 2016 Tour Qatar ended in the predicted sprint finish with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) narrowly beating Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) to the line. The two were part of a small group who remained after a crash took out a number of riders around 300 metres out.
The stage was held as a second test event for this year’s Doha World Championships and took in four laps of the 15.3 km circuit, before heading away for a finish at Qatar University. Before that circuit, though, the peloton headed north, passing the Losail motor racing circuit then turning back to Doha.
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A break of four riders was quickly able to build a lead of two minutes, though behind them, the peloton had split under the pressure of the ubiquitous cross winds.
By the time the first intermediate sprint was reached at 39km, the four escapees and been brought back by a strong group, including Kristoff who won the bonus seconds.
With Gold jersey wearer Cavendish in the second group, some 40 seconds down, it was down to his Dimension Data team to bring the leaders back, which they did as the race entered the Worlds circuit.
The peloton remained bunched from then on, though two riders, Belgian champion Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Smukulis (Astana) were allowed to build a lead which was never allowed to exceed 40 seconds. Van Hecke won the final intermediate sprint, on what will be the World championship finish line, before he and Smukulis were caught, setting up a bunch sprint.
On the final straight, a one kilometre uphill hill drag, Katusha and Dimension Data battled to establish their lead out trains. While the crash took out some of those further back, it did not prevent the leaders launching their sprint, which the Norwegian won by millimetres.
Tour of Qatar 2016, stage two: Qatar University to Qatar University, 135km
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
2. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data
3. Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
4. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
6. Andrea Palini (Ita) Skydive Dubai
7. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8. Tomasz Kiendys (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
9. Andre Looij (Ned) Roompot Oranje Peloton
10. Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha all same time
General classification after stage two
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data
2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 5 secs
3. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 14 secs
4. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana at 17 secs
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data at 18 secs
6. Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha at 18 secs
7. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing at 20 secs
8. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Fortuneo-Vital Concept at 21 secs
9. Sven Erik Bystrom (Nor) Katusha at 21 secs
10. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing at 21 secs