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Tour of Qatar: Kurek in the breakaway on Stage 4

It was another fast day in Qatar. On a 189-kilometer stage the riders averaged the speed of 47km/h and Adrian Kurek tried to make his presence felt, by attacking early on. 

Adrian Kurek was one of the main actors in the first half of the longest stage of Tour of Qatar. He managed to get in the 9-man breakaway and establish almost 2 minute lead. He pulled away soon after the start and worked in the front alongside Mark McNally (Wanty – Groupe Gobert), Artyom Zhakarov (Astana), Patrick Gretsch (AG2R La Mondiale), Sebastien Turgot (AG2R La Mondiale), Daniel Eaton (UnitedHealthcare), Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise), Berden De Vries (Roompot Oranje Peloton) and Thomas Koep (Stölting Service Group).

After the first intermediate sprint, won by Gretsch, BMC Racing moved up front in the bunch and began setting the pace. It caused the field to break apart in three pieces and the gap between the first chasing group and the escapees started to shrink fast.

With 90 kilometers remaining, the chasers, with race favorites among them, joined the break. The race was brought back together, but it didn’t last long, since three of former attackers – McNally, Van Hecke, Gretsch – and Jesper Asselman (Roompot Oranje Peloton)  made another move. They built up the advantage of 2:50, but they were never a big threat for the sprinters.

The escape got reeled in with 12 kilometers to go, when the speed of the peloton was in red. The group split one more time and the strongest GC riders remained in the front. With 6 kilometers left, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) punctured and lost almost a minute. Despite the fact, that his teammates were next to him and helped him in chasing, who was unable to join the leaders and lost his gold jersey.

The final kilometer was marked by a great performance by Katusha. They set up a 4-man lead-out, shattered what was left from the main group, and positioned Alexander Kristoff for the sprint. He finished off their work and grabbed the win. He edged out Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and the last lead-out man, Jacopo Guarnieri (Katusha) was third. Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) came in in 5th and took over the overall lead. Therefore the jersey remained on his team.

Grzegorz Stępniak crossed the line almost one minute behind the winner, in 63th. Adrian Kurek is the highest ranked “rider in orange” in GC, as he sits in 38th (4:!6 back).