Tour of Qatar 2014: Australian time trial champion Michael Hepburn quickest in stage three

Niki Terpstra stretches overall lead

Australian national time trial champion Michael Hepburn (Orica-GreenEDGE) was quickest against the clock to win stage three of the Tour of Qatar.

The former track star, 22, in his first competitive outing in the green and yellow striped jersey since winning it in Burrumbeet last month for the first time, beat Lars Boom (Belkin) by just one second.

Michael Hepburn was among the early riders to roll out for stage three and took advantage by setting an unbeatable mark (pic: Bruno Bade/ASO)

Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) stretched his overall lead meanwhile after finishing fifth – five seconds slower than Hepburn.

With three flat stages to come, Terpstra now appears favourite to retain the gold jersey as he boasts a 21-second advantage over second-placed Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol).

Taking advantage of an early start time, Hepburn stopped the clock on the 10.9km course, near to the Lusail Circuit, at 13 minutes and 29 seconds.

Having been the 12th rider on the course, 139 were still to finish the roundabout-laden loop which contained some sections hit with strong headwinds, and others a significant tailwind when he finished.

However, the Olympic team pursuit silver medallist’s mark stood throughout as he earned his first stage win at senior level since the 2011 Tour of Norway.

Dutch hardman Boom, one of the last riders out, looked set to cause late disappointment for the Australian when he set the fastest time for the first sector, but could not keep up his pace, finishing just a second down on Hepburn’s time.

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Daniele Bannati had earlier finished six seconds back – just fractions ahead of the mark set by Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), who missed out on a time trial podium spot for the second time in a week, after finishing fifth in Dubai.

Terpstra, as last man out, was defending a five second overall lead but his time of 13’37” means he now only needs to stay out of trouble in the next three stages.

Niki Terpstra now holds a 21-second lead overall in the gold jersey (pic: ©OPQS/Tim de Waele)

Team-mate Andy Fenn suffered disappointment however, crossing 48 seconds off Hepburn’s pace for what proved to be a 52nd place finish.

It meant fellow Omega Pharma-Quickstep man Guillaume van Keirsbluck took the Pearl White young rider’s jersey from his Scottish team-mate as Fenn dropped to tenth in GC.

Ian Stannard (Team Sky), who impressed in the time trial at the Tour of Britain last year, narrowly missed a place in the top ten – finishing 17 seconds down on Hepburn, only marginally slower than Belgian Gert Steegmans (OPQS).

However, the giant Team Sky man moved up to fifth overall as a result of his success, where he trails Terpstra by 35 seconds.

When road racing resumes on the Emirate tomorrow, the Dutchman will bid to defend the 21-second lead he now holds over Roelandts, with Boom a further three seconds back.

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Tour of Qatar: stage three – results

1) Michael Hepburn (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE – 13.29
2) Lars Boom (NED) – Belkin Pro Cycling +1”
3) Daniele Bennati (ITA) – Tinkoff-Saxo +6”
4) Fabian Cancellara (SUI) – Trek Factory Racing – ST
5) Niki Terpstra (NED) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +8”
6) Martin Elmiger (SUI) – IAM Cycling +10”
7) Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +13”
8) Philippe Gilbert (BEL) – BMC Racing +15”
9) Jens Mouris (NED) – Orica-GreenEDGE +16”
10) Gert Steegmans (BEL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +17”

General classification

1) Niki Terpstra (NED) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep – 6.57.06
2) Jurgen Roelandts (BEL) – Lotto-Belisol +21”
3) Lars Boom (NED) – Belkin Pro Cycling +24”
4) Tom Boonen (BEL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +28”
5) Ian Stannard (GBR) – Team Sky +35
6) Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +45”
7) Michael Morkov (DEN) – Tinkoff-Saxo +49”
8) Marcel Sieberg (GER) – Lotto-Belisol – ST
9) Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +58”
10) Andrew Fenn (GBR) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +1.06


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