Tom Boonen took his first win of the year in Qatar in a bunch sprint marred by a mass crash.
The Belgian Quick Step rider edged out Heinrich Haussler and Baden Cooke in a bunch gallop at the end of the race’s third stage from Dukhan to Mesaieed.
Unlike yesterday, which saw the bunch decimated by ferocious crosswinds, the weather was milder on the peloton on today’s stage.
Garmin began to take control of the race within the final 40 kilometres, trying to set up their man Tyler Farrar. Quick Step did its share of the work but it was the American team that was determined to keep control.
It was all a little premature, however, as Garmin faded in the final 10 kilometres with Saxo Bank, with the help of the formidable Fabian Cancellara, taking up the reigns.
As the bunch tore down on Mesaieed after a long, straight run in to the finish, there was a touch of wheels bringing down several riders.
In the ensuing chaos, Tom Boonen emerged from the pack to go head to head with Haussler, just edging out the German to take his first season win. It was also Boonen’s 16th stage win in Qatar, a race he can rightly claim to have made his own since first winning a stage in 2004.
Mol escaped the carnage of the final few hundred metres to retain the lead of the race, although German sprinter Gerald Ciolek was not quite so lucky. The Milram rider suffered a broken collarbone, the rider of the race so far to have fractured the same bone.
Tour of Qatar, stage three: 136km, Dukhan-Mesaieed
1. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
2. Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervélo
3. Baden Cooke (Aus) Saxo Bank
4. Kenny de Haes (Bel) Omega Pharma Lotto
5. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
6. Peter Wrolich (Aut) Milram
7. Taylor Phinney (USA) Trek Livestrong
8. Bobbie Traksel (Ned) Vaconsoleil
9. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin Transitions
10. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma Lotto
General Classification after stage three
1. Wouter Mol (Ned) Vaconsoleil
2. Geert Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator at 0-09
3. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step at 1-55
4. Roger Kluge (Ger) Milram at 1-59
5. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC at 2-05
6. Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Katusha at 2-15
7. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 2-17
8. Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Saxo Bank at 2-40
9. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Transitions at 2-41
10. Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo at 2-43
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