Cycling: Mark Cavendish all but certain of taking Tour of Qatar title
British rider wins third stage in a row to extend overall lead
Mark Cavendish came through the trickiest stage of the Tour of Qatar today with flying colors , capturing yet another victory - his third in three days and fourth of 2013 - and a landmark overall win all but certain tomorrow.
With frequent changes of direction on the exposed, flat 154 kilometre trek across north-west Qatar, the often-repeated stage from Al Zubara Fort to Madinat Al Shamal has often seen the peloton shatter in strong cross-winds in the past and the race leader put at risk.
But the winds stayed calm and instead Cavendish, strongly supported by team-mate Niki Terpstra, made a triumphant late charge for the line, with bonus seconds for the victory helping lift his overall lead margin from 2 seconds to a much solider advantage of 15.
“This stage is the always the most unpredictable one,” Cavendish said afterwards, “but I knew if we could get through this then we’re in with a very good chance of winning the race outright.”
“The guys [Omega Pharma-Quick Step team-mates] rode perfectly, they led me into every corner perfectly and finally they gave me a leadout which was perfect, as though they’ve been doing it for years.”
In what is now his most successful opening to the season in seven years as a professional, and which reconfirms he is settling in well into his new Omega Pharma Quick Step team, Cavendish should - barring last-minute disaster - be crowned as the Tour of Qatar winner tomorrow at the end of a straightforward stage to Doha’s Corniche.
Just finishing in the main pack would be enough to secure him his second ever overall victory in a stage race, and Cavendish will not have forgotten he suffered a nasty crash on Qatar’s final stage last year when he was brought down by clumsily manoeuvring rivals just 125 metres from the finish.
Given his run of success so far, though, and impressive form, fighting for one last victory in Qatar - and his fourth in a row - seems much more likely.
Latest in Sport
Chelsea vs Manchester United player ratings: Match-winner Eden Hazard leads the way, but Radamel Falcao endures game to forget
Chelsea 1 Manchester United 0: Eight things we learnt as Blues step closer to the Premier League title
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Where are the tickets for the fight?
Chelsea transfer news: Jose Mourinho plays down news signings Nathan and Yoshinori Muto but talks up Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Arsenal transfer news: Mikel Arteta needs 'five minutes' to sign new contract and remain with the Gunners
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...