Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon18) won the final stage of the Tour of Qatar with a powerful and well-timed sprint.
The good form of the Irishman was hinted at by a fifth place finish on stage one, but today’s sprint win was still as surprising as it was impressive, given all the big name sprinters contesting the finale.
In the run-in to the sprint, both Astana and Tinkoff-Saxo took over the lead of the peloton, only to break-up in the finale. The subsequent sprint was therefore a bit messy, although Astana’s Andrea Guardini still managed to find himself in at the front to launch his sprint first, and was only beaten to the line by Bennett.
On a short and flat stage, the only variable capable of changing the overall were bonus seconds. Earlier, Kristoff had signalled his intent to go for the overall by contesting an intermediate sprint.
After the initial break of Marcus Burghardt (BMC), Nicola Boem, Stefano Pirazzi (both Bardiani-CSF) and Preben van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) was caught by the peloton, Kristoff managed to gain two seconds by finishing second at the intermediate sprint, but was denied the maximum three seconds by Terpstra’s teammate Tom Boonen.
Sensing the danger, Etixx-Quick Step sent Iljo Keisse up the road with Gijs van Hoecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) to hoover up the next set of bonus seconds.
The pair was caught soon after, leaving the bunch to contest a big sprint at the finish line.
Tour of Qatar 2015, stage six: Sealine Beach Resort to Doha Corniche, 113km
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18 in 2-24-03
2. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
5. Youcef Reguigui (Alg) MTN-Qhubeka
6. Adam Blythe (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge
7. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx-QuickStep
8. Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx-QuickStep
9. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing
10. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar all same time
Final overall classification
1. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx-QuickStep in 17-36-48
2. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 6 secs
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 11 secs
4. Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky at 12 secs
5. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing at 19 secs
6. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo at 31 secs
7. Luke Rowe (GBr) Sky at 33 secs
8. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling at 39 secs
9. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 41 secs
10. Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx-QuickStep at 42 secs