Australian rider Heinrich Haussler won the second stage of the Tour of Qatar and barely missed taking the yellow jersey from Tom Boonen of Belgium by one second on Tuesday.
Haussler, of Garmin-Cervelo, outsprinted Daniele Bennati of Leopard Trek and Denis Galimzyanov of Katusha to win the 135.5km stage from the Camel Race Track to the Doha Golf Club in three hours, four minutes, three seconds.
The first 97 riders all registered the same time after the first-day winds calmed.
Three-time champion Boonen, sixth on the stage, led overall by one second from Haussler and four seconds from another Australian, Mark Renshaw with HTC-Highroad.
Boonen said he and his Quick Step team left themselves too much to do to catch the leading group in the last kilometer and a half, but he was still satisfied.
“We [himself and Haussler] both have the same objective [to win]. We are strong, so let the best guy win. It is a challenge,” Boonen said. “The only way forward is to keep the yellow jersey. Maybe a few more risks may help.”
Haussler said he was surprised and relieved to finally pick up a stage, after four seconds and two thirds on previous visits to Qatar.
“I’ve had so many seconds here the last few years that it’s good to get a win. Especially after last year, when so many things went so wrong for me,” he said.
“It wasn’t really expected, but I am happy with my form and the way things are at the moment in the team. This way I can go to the next stage and the next race on a high.”
Yesterday’s third stage was to be 150.5km from al-Wakra to Mesaieed in Qatar’s southeast.