After a day where it had all gone right for Team Sky when they won the team time trial of the Tour of Qatar, luck was definitely not on their side on stage two.
Kurt Asle Arvesen, the rider who was supposed to be team captain for a stage plagued by cross-winds and ferociously tough racing, broke his collarbone in a crash even before the race had left the neutralised zone.
Things went even further downhill when the bunch split after about 90 minutes when the peloton turned into a cross-wind. A second stage win was almost out of reach – with two riders up the road at 22 minutes – but the important news was that whilst Cervelo’s Roger Hammond and Jeremy Hunt were together with Tom Boonen in the first group of around 25 riders, Boasson Hagen was in the second group.
“The bunch was really nervous because they knew a big corner and cross-winds were coming up,” Ian Stannard – eventually Sky’s best finisher in 27th place, 3-33 back, told Cycling Weekly. “And when we went round it all hell broke loose. It was mayhem.”
Boasson Hagen was initially well-protected, but with Quick Step and Cervélo hammering away ahead, things slowly but surely went wrong even as Sky and other teams fought to keep the gap at 30 seconds.
The Norwegian ended up with only Stannard for company, but at that point he punctured. Crucially there were no Sky riders by that time in the third echelon, either.
“When that happened it was game over,” team boss Dave Brailsford added. Eventually Boasson Hagen finished 61st, nearly ten minutes down.
“We did what we could for as long as we could, supporting each otehr” Stannard added. “It was just a very difficult stage all round and that puncture came at exactly the wrong time.”
Tour of Qatar 2010: Coverage
Tour of Qatar 2010: Photo galleries
Arvesen suffers collarbone break in Qatar
Bradley Wiggins set to make Team Sky debut at 2010 Tour of Qatar
2009 Tour of Qatar photo gallery
2010 UCI World Calendar: ProTour and Historic races
Cycling Weekly: Rider Profiles index