AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Published — Thursday 7 February 2013
Last update 7 February 2013 12:20 am
AL KHOR, Qatar: Mark Cavendish continued his fine form yeterday as the Isle of Man speedster won for the second straight day by taking the fourth stage of the Tour of Qatar and seizing the overall lead.
The British rider who is in his first season with Omega Pharma-Quick Step after a move from Team Sky, won a mass sprint after 160km of racing between the Camel Race Track and Al Khor Corniche.
He came home ahead of Dutchman Barry Markus of Vacansoleil — in a repeat 1-2 finish in stage 3 — while Astana’s Andrea Guardini of Italy claimed third spot.
The 27-year-old who has picked up 23 stage wins on the Tour de France, a record for a sprinter and fourth all-time, now has six victories on the roads of Qatar and takes the gold jersey from American Brent Bookwalter by two seconds.
Thursday’s penultimate stage will see the peloton travel over 154km from Al Zubara Fort to Madinat Al Shamal, before the final day on Friday and the race conclusion at Doha.
Wiggins withdraws from Mallorca race
Meantime, Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins pulled out of the final stage of the Mallorca Challenge yesterday with over 100 kilometers of the race remaining.
There was an even more agonizing withdrawal for Wiggins´ Team Sky teammate Ben Swift who was taken to hospital after crashing on the final descent of the 170km stage from Can Picafort to Playa del Muro.
The race was eventually won by Australian Leigh Howard who was also victorious in the Santanyi to Ses Salines stage of the event on Monday.
Belgian Maarten Wynants came in second for the Blanco Pro Cycling Team and Italian Davide Cimolai of Lampre-Merida came in third.
Wiggins had been part of the peloton after just under 50km of the final leg of a four-day tour around the Balearic Isle before deciding to withdraw despite appearing not to have suffered any type of injury or accident.
The Englishman had struggled on his first outings of the 2013 season, finishing 161st and 152nd from the 178 strong peloton on the first two days of the challenge.
However, the four-time Olympic gold medallist had rebounded on the third stage between Deia and Lluc where he led by nearly a minute after 115km of the 150km race before being overhauled by a nine-strong breakaway pack that included teammate Sergio Henao and the eventual winner Alejandro Valverde.
Swift though had been in much better form as he made the podium with a third-place finish in Sunday´s stage and had another top-10 finish the following day.
The 25-year-old had seemed well-placed for the final sprint once more as the riders made their descent toward Playa de Muro before crashing out.
Team Sky announced via their Twitter page that Swift had been taken to hospital as a precautionary measure.