Under a blue sky 129 riders took off from the Al Khor Corniche for the fifth and penultimate stage. Immediately after
the start of the 170 kilometres long and longest stage of this years Tour of Qatar, the race was extremely fast The riders
used the strong tail wind.
After 5 kilometres the bunch broke up into several groups with all the favourites up front. Alexandre Pichot
(Bouyges Telecom), sixth overall after yesterdays fourth stage, failed to be among the leading men. After 20 kilometres the
gap between the first group and the first chasers was 35 seconds.
Under the influence of the Bouygues Telecom riders taking care of most of the chase, the main field bunched up together
again after 38 kilometres. A few moments later, the pace dropped down seriously. In the first hour the average speed was 56
Two riders attacked: Hossein Jahanbanian (Iranian Cycling Federation) and Omar Hasanin (Doha Team) already present in several
breakaway groups at this years Tour of Qatar.
After 64 kilometres the breakaway had a lead of 35 seconds. After 73 kilometres they had a lead of 4' 35". That was
the sign for Quickstep and Silence-Lotto to start the chase. After 93 kilometres Jahanbanian and Hasanin were caught by the
Steven de Jongh (Quickstep) won the first bonus sprint, Frederik Willems (Liquigas) took the second spot and
Nico Eeckhout (Topsport Vlaanderen) grabbed the third spot. The bunch broke up in two groups with all the main favourites
for the overall in the leading group. The gap was growing rapidly: 20 seconds after 118 kilometres, 1' 15" after 130 kilometres
and 2' 55" after 140 kilometres.
Just before the second intermediate sprint at Umm Suwaiya Mitchell Docker (Drapac Porsche) attacked but he didn't really
got away. But at least it was enough to win the second intermediate sprint. Steven de Jongh was second and Maarten Tjallinghi
(Silence - Lotto) took the third place.
With 10 kilometres to go Quickstep started to prepare the bunch sprint for their captain and overall race leader,
Tom Boonen. With 500 metres to go a severe crash sent several riders to the ground. Julian Dean, Magnus Backstedt and Christopher
Sutton (All Slipstream) were some of the riders involved. Early reports say Backstedt broke his collarbone.
Danilo Napolitano (Lampre) took the stage. Yesterdays stage winner Alberto Loddo (Tinkoff) came in second, Tom Boonen came
in third and defended his overall lead. Boonen also defended his lead in the points classification, Greg Van Avermaet
remains the best young rider.
Danilo Napolitano said: "During the last two kilometres, I was behind Boonen. With 250m to go, De Jongh was taking care
of launching Boonen. He then took command of things with 200 metres to go and I still had to go by De Jongh. I then anticipated
on Tom Boonen’s sprint before winning the stage and so I can celebrate my birthday!"
Lampre's Sports Director Fabrizio Bontempi said: "A very good performance by Napolitano and by the whole team, that has
worked in a perfect way during the stage and just before the sprint."