Jonathan Vaughters, motivational speaker, Nostradamus of the ProTour.
Back in late December, Vaughters counted up the horsepower the team gained in the Garmin-Cervelo merger and wrote a new mission for 2011: “By the end of the year, we want to be the number one team in the world. That’s the singular performance goal of our team. I’m being pretty loud about that sort of thing.”
So far, so good, so loud.
Today in the Tour of Qatar, it was Heinrich Haussler making good on number one and UCI world domination He won his second stage in a row in the Big Q, the Races to the Oasis, blasting past Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad) and Daniel Bennati (Leopard-Trek.)
“Today was just all about timing,” Haussler said afterwards. “The others went pretty early and I was just left with a gap in the sprint.” Not only is Heinoh back from knee injury but his smile is getting bigger everyday.
One man who wasn’t smiling at the finish line in Mesaieed was Quick Step’s Tom Boonen. A punctured tire at a miserable time ended all hopes the Belgian had of winning the overall in Qatar or scoring the Desert Double. A double win in the upcoming Tour of Oman is the Mid East equivalent of a Paris-ROubaix-Flanders, kinda-sorta.
The blown tire occurred just as Boonen and company were about to capture the day’s breakaway group. A gap of 1:15 became a deficit of 3:02 by the time Boonen rolled in.
“I realized I had to try and go to the front of the group and lead the chase,” Boonen said. “But even if I’d closed the gap, I’d still have been dead at the finish.” Dead not good, not in the desert where the bedouins would strip your body in minutes and take your Merckx.
Boonen’s loss was Mark Renshaw’s gain as he moves into second overall, just four second back. Maybe a nice lead-out from Mr. Cavendish will put the Bathhurst Bulldog in a brand new ochre jersey.
Speaking of the Manxman and his mystery form, he did prove stronger than Fabian Cancellara. Cavendish rode hard and stayed with the lead group until the windy finish while the world time trial champ finished far back in time, a whopping 32:50 behind Haussler. Hey, he’s training and that’s that.
It was Vaughters who best summed up the day on his twitter feed: “Every day I get up to the team winning a race. I could get used to this.”
Well, that was the big plan all along, right?