Photo credit: KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images
Italian Rider Francesco Chicchi won the bunch sprint in Al Khor Corniche today in the 4th stage of the Tour of Qatar. The Liquigas rider, along with all his teammates, are wearing a black wristband in honour of recently passed former rider and coach Franco Ballerini. “This is a special win for all the team. We wanted to win for Franco,” said Chicchi.
The bunch sprint was mad and chaotic as it was yesterday but luckily few riders hit the ground. The early season races are always a little frenetic as the sprinters get back into there groove. The Qatar has already claimed the collarbone of Norwegian champ and Team Sky rider Kurt-Asle Arvesen on Stage 2, as well as the collarbone of Garmin-Transitions rider Steven Cozza and Milram rider Gerald Ciolek.
Today the sprint was opened up by former track star Theo Bos, who is a new addition to the Cervelo Test Team, attended by Tom Boonen, and closed out by Francesco Chicchi. “The best sprinters in the world are here and they’re in great condition. We tried to pull on the front in the last few kilometers but there was too much chaos. At the final roundabout Bennati gave me an incredible hand and I set off with 300 meters to go and it went well from me,” Chicchi said at the finish.
“We’ve decided yo ride all the race with black tape on our arms as a sign of mourning. It’s a small sign in memory of a great man who had a huge place in Italian cycling. This win is for him.” Chicchi added after and emotional embrace with some of the Liquigas lead out men.
Stage 4 Results:
1 Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo______3:16:58
2 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervélo TestTeam____st
3 Juan Jose Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank______st
General Classification after 4 stages:
1 Wouter Mol (Ned) Vacansoleil___9:59:28
2 Geert Steurs (Bel) Topsport____0:00:09
3 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step___0:01:55