Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won stage 3 of the Tour of Qatar on Tuesday in Mesaieed.
An Argos-Shimano rider opened the chaotic sprint late. Cavendish followed Luke Rowe (Sky) up the right side of the bunch inside 850 meters and launched to the stage win and a 10-second time bonus.
“It was real chaotic in the final,” said Cavendish, who lost his last leadout man to a broken spoke with 2km to go. “I had to go at 350 to go, so that was that.”
Markus Barry (Vacansoleil-DCM) was second and Aidis Kruopis (Orica-GreenEdge) was third.
Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) defended his golden leader’s jersey, but Cavendish vaulted up the general classification and now sits fourth, behind a trio of BMC Racing riders, at eight seconds.
A crash 18km into the stage involved approximately 20 riders, including Karsten Kroon (Saxo-Tinkoff), who was taken to the hospital, Elia Viviani (Cannondale), and Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing). Viviani and Phinney finished the stage.
“Karsten was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time and was brought down in a 20 rider pile-up,” said Saxo director Lars Michaelsen. “His thigh was cut up and he had a flesh wound. Naturally, we hope that the injury is purely muscular but we’ll be awaiting to hear more from the hospital soon.”
“It was a pretty dynamic race,” said Bookwalter. “It was a nervous day, a tense day, and as always in Qatar, a fast day.”
Bookwalter pointed to Cavendish as the race favorite at this point, with three likely sprint stages ahead.
“Anything can happen in this race,” said Cavendish when asked about his GC hopes. “You’ve just got to take every day as it comes.”
The Tour of Qatar continues Wednesday with the 160km fourth stage from Camel Race Track to Al Khor Corniche (160km). Time bonuses of 10, six and four seconds will be on offer at the finish.