Brent Bookwalter pulled off what fans thought was impossible, hold off the might of the sprint teams in Tour of Qatar stage one. The effort was enough to beat his two breakaway companions and take the leader’s golden jersey.
“It’s a big honour to have it, the class of the field here is high,” Bookwalter said of the leader’s jersey. “I came here four years a go as a second year pro. I was blown out of the water, I wasn’t ready for it.
“To come back a few years later, I knew I was a different rider. To turn that into a performance was special.”
Bookwalter leads Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) in the overall by four seconds. Team-mate Taylor Phinney picked up bonus seconds in the first sprint and sits fifth overall at five seconds.
In all, BMC put five of its eight-man team up front. Phinney and Adam Blythe were working to sprint and Greg Van Avermaet and Bookwalter marked attacks.
Elmiger shot clear at 12km out, shortly after a four-man move with Bernhard Eisel (Sky) returned. Bookwalter and Gregory Rast (RadioShack-Leopard) joined. They held 45 seconds heading along Qatar’s west coast.
The fans along the road saw Bookwalter lead through the final corner and do the majority of the work. Rast said he was “dead” and Elmiger said that maybe he is too old to pull off a sprint. Bookwalter succeeded, his first big international win, a split-second ahead of the peloton led by Eisel.
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) placed sixth behind Elia Viviani (Cannondale) and Eisel. When the race turned directions, cross-winds shattered the peloton. Eisel’s group broke off the front, a 28-man formed behind and Cavendish sat further back at 45 to 30 seconds.
OmegaPharma pulled Cavendish back into the game with 10km left. It gave a hand to Sky, but then backed off for the final kilometres. Cavendish seems to be saving his gunpowder for another day.
Bookwalter will defend his race lead in a team time trial tomorrow, while Cavendish will look to Tuesday’s leg to Mesaieed.
Tour of Qatar 2013, stage one: Katara Cultural Village to Dukhan Beach, 145km
1. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing in 3-28-47
2. Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling
3. Gregory Rast (Swi) RadioShack-Leopard
4. Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky
5. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale
6. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
7. Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo-Tinkoff
8. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing
9. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
10. Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ all same time
18. Adam Blythe (GBr) BMC Racing at same time
21. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at same time
33. Luke Rowe (GBr) Sky at same time
46. Matt Brammeier (Irl) Champion System at 11 secs
51. Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky at 21 secs
85. Russell Downing (GBr) NetApp-Endura at 16-02
122. Steve Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing at 16-02
Overall classification after stage one
1. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing in 3-28-37
2. Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling at 4 secs
3. Gregory Rast (Swi) RadioShack-Leopard at 6 secs
4. Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky
5. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing at same time
6. John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos-Shimano at 8 secs
7. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at same time
8. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale at 10 secs
9. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
10. Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo-Tinkoff at same time
Mark Cavendish and Heinrich Haussler
Brent Bookwalter defies the sprinters to take the win
Brent Bookwalter in the leader’s jersey