Bernhard Eisel and Team Sky fought hard to maintain fifth overall on the final stage at the Tour of Qatar.
With only seconds separating the majority of the top 10 the Austrian knew that attack was the best form of defence, jumping out at the first intermediate sprint in Al Wakra to grab two crucial bonus seconds.
That meant Eisel was able to weather the storm at the second sprint to remain fifth, 32 seconds behind race winner Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step), who also claimed a fourth stage victory in the process.
Courtesy of a strong team time trial on Monday and a week of close racing Team Sky were able to pack out the lower reaches of the top 10 – Edvald Boasson Hagen, Luke Rowe and Geraint Thomas sealing eighth to 10th overall as their Classics preparation intensified. A consistent performance also saw the team finish second in the team classification.
As the final stage reached its climax it was Cavendish who again held off Yauheni Hutarovich (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Barry Markus (Vacansoleil-DCM), with Eisel the best-placed Team Sky rider in the bunch in eighth.
It is only the second time Cavendish has topped a general classification in his career following a win last season for Team Sky at ZLM Toer.
His margin of overall victory was 25 seconds over Brent Bookwalter (BMC), while Adam Blythe (BMC) made it two Britons in the top five by finishing fourth, 30 seconds down on his compatriot.
The final stage took the riders on a short, 116km flat route starting at the Sealine Beach Resort and finishing with 10 laps of a 6km circuit