Niki Terpstra (Etixx-Quick-Step) rode to victory in the stage 3 time trial of the Tour of Qatar Tuesday, taking the race leader’s gold jersey along the way in Lusail.
“There were lots of [time trial] specialists, a good peloton. And I beat them all, it’s fantastic!” said Terpstra. “I set off to put in a good time trial for the overall standings … but winning the stage!”
His time of 14:03 on the 10.9km course, on another windy day in Qatar, was good enough to best both Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), who took second, eight seconds behind Terpstra, and world time trial champion Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), who was third, nine seconds back on the leader.
“This is the first time I’ve put on the rainbow jersey [as world champion] since September,” Wiggins said. “It’s always special, it’s a big event.”
Having started the day in fifth overall, Terpstra’s ITT performance gave him a commanding lead in the general classification. Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff-Saxo) nabbed fourth place on the stage 3 and now sits in second place on GC, 11 seconds behind the lead, with Ian Stannard taking fifth on the day to put him in third on GC, 12 seconds down.
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) who started the day wearing the gold jersey after his victory on a windswept stage 2, lost 44 seconds to Terpstra, the 2014 Tour of Qatar champion, and tumbled to sixth in the general classification.
The first man to clock a fast time was Lars Boom (Astana) who had finished second in last year’s Tour of Qatar time trial. But his time of 14:33 would be beaten by the former hour-record holder Mathias Brändle (IAM Cycling) by 12 seconds.
“Today we all struggled with the wind and experienced the same conditions,” said Brändle. “Due to the conditions, I went cautiously into the wind. And when I crossed the line, I felt that I probably could have gone full gas a little bit earlier, but how was I supposed to know?”
Then came Wiggins, who clocking the fastest time at the halfway mark, then took the top spot in 14:12. Wiggins would finally have to settle for third place after Cancellara edged him out by one second and Terpstra smashed that best time.
“The wind was stronger even than yesterday, I knew it was going to be hard,” Terpstra, 30, said. “It was important not to start too quickly, especially as the final two kilometers were into the wind.”
The silver jersey (points classification) remains on the shoulders of Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick-Step), while Luke Rowe (Team Sky), who finished 15th today, took the white pearl jersey for the best young rider.
Wednesday’s fourth stage will take the peloton 165.5 kilometers from Al Thakhira to Mesaieed.