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Brammeier pilots Boonen to Qatar win

Posted 10 February 2012

Tom Boonen has won the Tour of Qatar for the fourth time thanks in no small way to his Omega Pharma-Quickstep teammate Matt Brammeier who protected his interests during a dramatic final stage in Doha Corniche.

Brammeier was a big force in helping the team to pull back a seven man breakaway with 14 kilometres to go before working hard to keep the speed high enough to dissuade any further attacks.

He persisted right up the final kilometres leaving Boonen well positioned for a dramatic finishing spring which saw Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) hit the deck while Arnaud Demare (FDJ-Big Mat) clinched the stage win.

Brammeier rode hard throughout the 120.5 kilometre stage from the Sealine Beach Resort with a tailwind helping the peloton to maintain an average speed of 58 kilometres per hour for the first hour of racing.

Boonen’s lead came under threat when a seven man breakaway involving Tony Gallopin (Radioshack-Nissan) stretched their lead to more than one minute in the closing stages.

Gallopin started the day just 1’33” down on Boonen which was enough to see Brammeier and his Omega Pharma-Quickstep teammates rally themselves in bringing them back to the fold.

The Irish national champion pulled hard at the front of the peloton on several occasions over the final kilometres proving once again that he is enjoying some excellent early season form.

He drifted towards the finish with an apparent mechanical costing him to concede 5’10” on the stage which left him 94th in the finishing GC.

His performance throughout the week was impressive and it will be no surprise to see him take on a key role as Boonen’s lieutenant and team prospect during the coming spring classics campaign.

David McCann (RTS Racing) finished the race strongly placing 34th to improve his GC position to 73rd.
Boonen celebrated overall victory by a slender 28 seconds over Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) while Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky) finished third.

Boonen built his achievement thanks to two partial successes in the first and fourth stages, aided by some exceptional team work. 

“I’ve never been interested in records. However it’s nice to win this race for the fourth time. After the good test in Argentina I wanted to win in Qatar. There were a lot of competitors here but I was also lucky that the route was adapted to my skills," said Boonen.

"I built my victory in the first stage and in the fourth stage, both were very difficult, then I concentrated on defending myself in the other stages. Today I didn’t want to take any risks, so as not to blow a week’s worth of work. I’m satisfied; this is my first step back to high level cycling. Now it will be important to stay calm and concentrate on fine tuning this conditioning," he added

Boonen has already turned his attention to the Tour of Oman and has declared that he will be racing in support of his teammates.

"My teammates have been fantastic in this start of 2012. There’s a great atmosphere on the team, I thank all of them for the fantastic job they’ve done for me. It would be a dream to be able to help one of them clinch a personal success," he said.

Team Sports Director Wilfried Peeters was pleased that the team implemented an effective strategy and didn't take any chances in the final stage.

"A fall would have compromised the work of one week. The guys stayed close to Tom, who didn’t want to risk anything. A flat or a fall in the last kilometres would have been a problem. For us today it was important to maintain our leadership in the race," he said.

"Overall in Qatar we saw a great Tom Boonen but in general a great team, able to also win the classification for teams and to place Steegmans in 4th place. Today Gert also tried to make up a few seconds in the intermediate sprint so he could get to the third step on the podium, but to no avail. The guys rode a tight race and the results have rewarded us. It’s been a phenomenal start of 2012 for our team. Now we have to try to maintain this form and this spirit for the races to come," added Peeters.

Results:

Tour of Qatar

Stage 6: Sealine Beach Resort - Doha Corniche, 120.5 kilometers

1. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ          
2. Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Katusha          
3. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank          
4. Roger Kluge (Ger) Project 1t4i          
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha          
6. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Barracuda          
7. Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale          
8. Allan Davis (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team          
9. Aaron Kemps (Aus) Champion System          
10. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team

34. David McCann (Irl) RTS Racing - same time
73. Matt Brammeier (Irl) Omega Pharma-Quickstep at 00:05:58

Final general classification:

1. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep          
2. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Barracuda    0:00:28     
3. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Sky Procycling 00:00:33          
4. Gert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep    0:00:34     
5. Tom Veelers (Ned) Project 1t4i    0:01:00     
6. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling    0:01:05     
7. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan    0:01:06     
8. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Barracuda    0:01:09     

73. David McCann (Irl) RTS Racing at 00:05:10
94. Matt Brammeier (Irl) Omega Pharma-Quickstep at 00:10:14

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