Kristoff Takes Second Win for Russian Team Katusha at Tour of Qatar
Today's stage 4 of the 2015 Tour of Qatar ended in a sprint in Mesaieed.
As on the second day of the race, Alexander Kristoff showed he was the fastest of the pack when he captured his second success of this year's Qatar Tour for his Russian Katusha team.
The Norwegian sprinter, who remains riding in support of Russian Team Katusha despite Russia's actions in Ukraine, beat Peter Sagan (Team Tinkoff Bank - Saxo Bank) and Niklas Arndt (Team Giant-Alpecin) in the fierce sprint across the line. Comfortably positioned in the main peloton group when crossing the finish line, Niki Terpstra keeps hold of the general classification lead for Team Etixx - QuickStep.
The picturesque site of Al Thakhira, just north of the city of Al Khor, welcomed the riders of the Tour of Qatar for the start of stage 4. After their intensive time trial battle yesterday, the 139 riders including new race leader Terpstra took off at half past eleven for a 166 kilometer ride to Messaieed. The wind direction remained the same as the previous days (south/south-east).
After ten kilometers three riders managed to take off, despite the efforts of multiple teams that tried to keep the pack together. Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Dmitriy Gruzdev (Pro Team Astana) and Jarl Salomein (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise). Their lead reached three minutes and fourty seconds as Team Etixx-Quickstep took control of the chase in order to protect their race leader and set up its sprinters for the final battle of the day.
The first intermediate sprint (kilometer 76.5) was won by Salomein ahead of Venter and Gruzdev while the pack remained three minutes adrift. The pack maintained control of the breakaway group and gradually reeled them in. The second bonus sprint (kilometer 136.5) was won by Gruzdev in front of Salomein and Venter, while the gap had dropped down to one minute and fifteen seconds.
Eventually, the front trio was caught by the pack with twenty kilometers to go. Fighting against the strong head wind all the way to Mesaieed, the peloton remained bunched without signs of any rider attempting a final attack. Time had come for a bunched sprint. Like on the corniche in Al Khor, Norway's Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha) proved the strongest rider, beating Peter Sagan (Team Tinkoff Bank - Saxo Bank) and Nikias Arndt of Team Giant - Alpecin. Thanks to his second stage win, the Norwegian takes command of the points classification and will be wearing the silver jersey in Thursday’s penultimate stage of this year's Tour of Qatar.
The general classification leader’s golden jersey remains on the shoulders of defending Tour of Qatar champion Niki Terpstra, but due to a slight gap in the pack when crossing the finish line, the Dutchman is just six seconds ahead of Team Tinkoff Bank-Saxo Bank's Maciej Bodnar following today's stage. Team Sky Pro Cycling's Ian Stannard is twelve seconds behind. Great Britain’s Luke Rowe (Team Sky) remains the best young rider and keeps the white pearl jersey.
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