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Brammeier sits tight as Boonen profits from Qatar escape

Posted 08 February 2012

 

Matt Brammeier had to give way to the fortunes of his Omega Pharma-Quickstep team on stage four of the Tour of Qatar after race leader Tom Boonen and three teammates managed to slip away in a late seventeen-man break.

The Irish road race champion was trapped in the second group on the road after the wind split the peloton with just over 25 kilometres of the 144 kilometre stage from Al Thakhira to Madinat Al Shamal to go.

The Omega Pharma-Quickstep team used the split to put a stranglehold on the race, helping Boonen to his 20th stage win at the Tour of Qatar and to extend his lead over Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) to 34 seconds overall.

There was little that Brammeier could do after his team leader pulled clear with teammates Gert Steegmans, Nikolas Maes and Francesco Chicchi for company in the face on a strong headwind.

The Irishman sat on towards the head of the chase group as the gap hovered at 20 seconds and was forced to reserve his obvious good form when the escapees stretched their advantage to more than one minute heading into the closing eight kilometres.

The fact that stage three winner Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) missed the split, having started the day third overall just eight seconds off the race lead, provided Boonen and Farrar with the incentive to push on up front.

Boonen was in scintillating form as the lead group maintained an average speed of 48 kilometres per hour on the run into the finish where a puncture was to prove costly for Farrar.

The Belgian was aided by Steegmans and Maes in replying to a trademark attack from Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan) on the fringe of the final five kilometres.

Cancellara’s effort ripped through the escape group leaving Tom Veelers (Project 1t4i) Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky) and the remarkable Omega Pharma-Quickstep trio to decide the stage.

Boonen proved that his form and confidence continues to improve by seeing off Veelers for his second stage win since the race started on Sunday, while Cancellara finished third.

“This is an important step towards the general classification. The more difficult the race conditions, the more the riders who are in top shape are emerging," said Boonen after the stage.

"Today our team had a perfect race. Once again Steegmans carried me perfectly. I have great faith in Gert and again today we proved our worth," he said.

Boonen now leads the general classification with a 31’’ advantage over Tyler Farrar and 34’’ on Juan Antonio Flecha.

“It won’t be easy to defend the jersey in these next few days but I’m lucky to have a great team with me,” continued Boonen.

“Personally, I feel good and I’m looking forward to the last stages with confidence, even if in the desert flat tyres and echelons are part of the course," he said.
Brammeier followed home 1 minute, 45 seconds down in the company of David McCann (RTS Racing) in the main peloton.

He has dropped to 51st in the GC at 3'43" while McCann lies 87th overall with a deficit of 5'10".

The Irish duo will continue to battle the wind in Qatar tomorrow as the race makes its way over 160 kilometers from the Camel Race Track to Al Khor Corniche.

Results:

Tour of Qatar

Stage 4: Al Thakhira – Madinat Al Shamal, 144 kilometres

1.   Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step          
2.  Tom Veelers (Ned) Project 1t4i          
3.  Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan          
4.  Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Sky Procycling         
5.  Gert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step at 0:00:04     
6.  Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step at 0:00:11     
7.  Yoann Offredo (FDJ-BigMat    0:00:14     
8.  Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky Procycling          
9.  Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Barracuda          
10. Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling

70. Matt Brammeier (Irl) Omega Pharma-Quick Step at 1 minute, 45 seconds
87. David McCann (Irl) RTS Racing at same time

General classification after stage 4:

1. Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) 9:50:50
2. Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) at 31
3. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) at 34
4. Gert Steegmans (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) at 36
5. Bernhard Eisel (Sky) at 45
6. Tom Veelers (Project 1t4i) at 50
7. Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) at 1:06
8. Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Barracuda) at 1:09
9. Aidis Kruopis (GreenEDGE) at 1:10
10. Adam Blythe (BMC) at 1:14

51. Matt Brammeier (Irl) Omega Pharma-Quick Step at 3 minutes, 43 seconds
87. David McCann (Irl) RTS Racing at 5 minutes, 10 seconds

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