The course of the final stage had to be changed after the wind, already well present during the whole week turned
to a sand storm. The race organisers therefore decided to get rid of the part going from the start at Al Wakra down south
and added an extra three laps on Doha’s Corniche. 125 riders therefore took off for a 104 kilometres long stage.
At the start of the final stage, overall leader Tom Boonen (Quickstep), had a lead of 17 seconds on his Dutch team mate
Steven De Jongh and 30’seconds on Greg Van Avermaet (Silence - Lotto). Boonen also had a 31 point advantage
over Italian Napolitano in the points classification.
The bunch first had to deal with a strong face wind all the way to the Doha Corniche. After 14.5 kilometres the
bunch arrived at the final circuit and Qatar’s Tarek Esmaeili (Doha Team) took off for a solo attack. The local rider
saw his lead growing from 50 seconds after 16 kilometres to 1' 38" at the first passage on the line (km 21). Under the
influence of the wind, the average speed was 29,1 km/h in the first hour of the race.
AT the first intermediate sprint (km 30), Esmaeili had a lead of 5' 40" lead on the bunch led by Piet Rooijakkers
(Skil - Shimano) and Maarten Tjallinghi (Silence - Lotto). His advantage increased and reached 7' 35" at the third passage
on the line (km 39).
While the gap reached a maximum 8',Tayler Tolleson (BMC) attacked and was followed and lated
caught by Angus Morton (Drapac - Porsche) At the fourth passage on the line (km 48), Esmaeili still had a lead of 6'30"
advantage on the counter-attackers and 6'40" on the bunch. A few moments later, Iranian Askari (IRI) took off from the
main field and tried on his own to close in on the leading men. A vain effort! The day’s first escapee made it first
at the second intermediate sprint, beating Tolleson and Morton, still 2' 20" behind while the pack remained at 3'35".
72 kilometres Esmaeili was eventually caught by Tolleson and Morton. The three riders were caught by the bunch with
less then 20 kilometres to go. Twelve kilometres from the finish line, three riders took off: Bart Vanheule (Topsport
Vlaanderen), Jackson Stewart (BMC) and Hossein Askari (Iranian Cycling Federation). The trio had a maximum lead of 12 seconds
and never reall got away as the bunch was chasing them with a very high pace.
The final sprint could eventually be prepared for all the strong sprinters of the bunch. After he had already won
stage 2 and 3, Tom Boonen (QST) conquered his third stage success of the event. Tornado Tom outsprinted Italian
rider Alberto Loddo (Tinoff) and Brazilian rider Luciano Pagliarini (Saunier Duvall - Scott) on the line. Boonen also
won the overall of the Tour of Qatar for the second time after 2006, with a 27’" lead over his team mate Steven
De Jongh (Quickstep). Boonen also claimed thepoints classification. Greg Van Avermaet (Silence - Lotto), third overall,
won the young riders classification of the 2008 edition of the race.
Boonen said: "The sprint was really fast. We had to stay on the outside because the wind was coming from the left side.
For the last three kilometres, I had to go at least 15 times on the outside so I lost a lot of energy. The last kilometre
was so fast and the guys were leading me out perfectly. Wouter [Weylandt] started sprinting for me, he did an incredible 100m
and it was really hard to keep up the speed. I waited for as long as possible and made my effort just in time.
few years, we were always good here. If you do a good job one year and a bad job the next year, you can be a little bit worried.
Winning is something we have to do. It’s a habit now."
Tinkoff's Alberto Loddo was happy with his performance at this years Tour Of Qatar. The Italian rider finshed 8th overall
and won stage 4. At the last two stages Loddo came in second. Loddo said: "I wanted to absolutely repay the confidence my
teammates have in me, but Boonen is a very strong competitor; however, I am very pleased with my performance so far, and it
gives me confidence that I wish to continue during the season."
Tinkoff's Sports Director Orlando Maini said of the team's performance, "The team has shown strength at the Tour of Qatar,
and the victory of Loddo was the highlight, and we are convinced that the team will only continue to improve in performance
as the season continues."