Tom Boonen quits the Tour

Tom Boonen won his third consecutive stage at the 2007 Tour of Qatar on Wednesday after some spectacular echelon racing and chasing across the desert.

Boonen and Quick Step made sure they were in the decisive echelon that formed early during the 139km stage and then controlled all the attacks in the final kilometres before Boonen unleashed his trademark powerful sprint.

T-Mobile riders made several strong attacks in the finale to try and avoid a sprint finish but Quick Step and Boonen controlled them all in a powerful show of early season form. It was Boonen?s third consecutive sprint win and the fourth consecutive stage win for Quick Step after they also won the opening team time trial stage.

Australia?s Graeme Brown (Rabobank) finished second in the sprint behind Boonen with Brazil?s Murilo Fischer (Liquigas) third. Alessandro Petacchi and his Milram team missed the decisive echelon and finished five minutes behind the front group of 20 riders, with the main bunch more than 15 minutes behind.

Thanks to the time bonus for wining the stage Boonen extended his overall race lead with his team mate Steven de Jongh now second.

Thursday?s 160km fifth stage is from Al Zubarah to Mesaieed, going fro north to south on the Qatar peninsula.

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