Besides Tom Boonen being in near-peak form, what else did we learn from the Tour of Qatar?
Well, Stages 3 and 5 demonstrated that Mark Cavendish does not need a dedicated lead-out man to win. That’s not to say his Sky team did nothing – on both occasions in the final kilometers, Bernie Eisel and Juan Antonio Flecha got him where he needed to be – but Cav’ demonstrated his incredible dexterity by jumping from wheel to wheel until he launched his trademark low-profile sprint.
And when he goes, it really is a sight to behold.
It appeared that he was reveling in not having someone like his old lead-out man, Mark Renshaw, to steer him to the line – like he was playing a game of ‘Frogger’ on the Doha desert highway.
“You never really get the season going until you get that first win under your belt,” Cavendish said after his Stage 3 win outside Al Gharafa Stadium.
The key for his rivals was to stop him from taking that first win; now that he’s started, Cavendish will be virtually impossible to stop – unless, of course, he gets taken out (or takes himself out, depending on how you saw it), as happened on Friday’s final stage. Subjectively, it wasn’t really anyone’s fault, as much as it was the risks that riders were taking when 13 teams were yet to notch a notch a victory after five days’ racing.
It must be an awful conundrum for the likes of André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol, who was not in Qatar due to illness), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda), Mark Renshaw (Rabobank), Thor Hushovd (BMC), Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) and others right now.
It is clear as day that Cavendish is the fastest by a solid margin. He also has the agility and poise of Robbie McEwen in his heyday, which allows him to prevail with or without a lead-out train.
Greipel, simply because of his God-given strength (he says it’s from his mother – “you just need to look at her,” he said), will likely be the only man to come close to Cavendish this season. Perhaps his adversaries should get a hold of his race schedule and pick races the Manxman won’t be at, because to be
To read the whole story, visit here: http://velonews.competitor.com/2012/02/news/qatar-analysis-death-by-echelons_206195