Racing in the Tour of Qatar is Athens, Georgia resident John Murphy of BMC Racing Team. Murphy, known as one of the team’s sprinters, is the go to guy in the closing kilometers of a race. However, today was the prologue of this Middle East race – a gut busting 2.7 kilometer effort which included five roundabouts, 14 turns and cobblestone sections. Unlike most prologues where crowds line the fencing, there didn’t seem to be that many cycling fans in Qatar. The race announcer correctly pointed out that soccer and cricket are this country’s sports of interest.
When the stage was finished Murphy finished 25th, 13 seconds behind the winner Lars Boom of Rabobank. Known as a cyclocross rider, Boom is making the transition to a full-time roadie. His time of 3:07 earned him the leader’s gold jersey. Time trial world champion Cancellara was second across the line just four seconds back. Rounding out the podium was Tom Veelers of Skil-Shimano in third. Murphy’s new BMC teammate Manuel Quinziato finished in 17th.
Mark Cavendish’s bad luck streak continues. At the recent Santos Tour Down Under, Cavendish crashed hard in stage 2 leaving him with cuts to his head. In this rather technical course Cav went down again – this time it’s reported that he only suffered abrasions. He took his time remounting his bike and as a result finished dead last. This season it seems that Cavendish’s nickname will be the Manx Speedbump rather than the Missile.
Carolina Cycling News was lucky enough to spend a few minutes talking to Murphy after today’s Tour of Qatar prologue (apologies for a few problems with audio sync). In typical pro style the young pro was relaxing and recovering for the following day’s stages but he still found the energy to discuss the features of the prologue course, Cavendish’s crash, how he thinks the following stages of the Tour of Qatar will play out, and how much JPMurph coffee he needs before a stage.
For a complete stage report go to Versus.com.