The pack of cycling’s world elite now has its winter habits in Qatar. The riders have also been used to suffer the law of one of the sprint masters: Tom Boonen. During his travels to the Middle East, the Belgian makes the best of the climate and the stage profiles to work on his speed. Almost always on par as soon as his first day of the season, the 2005 World Champion has collected the winner’s trophies on the roads of Qatar: ever since his first appearance in 2004, he claimed 14 stage successes, winning the overall standing on two occasions (2006, 2008).
But Tom Boonen’s traditional masterpiece could be troubled by the brilliance of another world class sprinter, Mark Cavendish who has chosen to start his season in Doha. The two most powerful men of the pack have however rarely had the opportunity to battle it out. Last summer the Brit of Team Columbia had indeed made the best of the absence of Boonen to clinch four stage victories on the Tour de France. The five normal stages planned this year could be as many episodes of the expected duel. The field united for this 8th edition of the Tour of Qatar could see quite a few specialists shine on the last straight (Chicchi, Förster, Haussler, etc.) or impress through breakaway attempts (Flecha, Knaven, Pozzato, etc.).
|The 17 teams, the main riders|
Team Milram: Knaven (Hol), Förster (All)
Drapac – Porsche Cycling: McDonald (Aus)
Quick Step: Boonen (Bel), De Jongh (Hol)
Silence - Lotto: Hoste, Cretskens (Bel)
TopSport Vlaanderen-Mercator: Goddaert (Bel)
BMC Racing Team: M.Zberg (Sui), Cruz (Usa)
Garmin-Slipstream: Wiggins (Gbr), Backstedt (Sue)
Team Columbia-High Road: Cavendish (Gbr), Burghardt (All)
AG2R La Mondiale: Mondory (Fra), Krivtsov (Ukr)
Lampre-N.G.C.: Furlan, Righi (Ita)
Liquigas: Chicchi (Ita), Fischer (Bre)
Meitan Hompo-GDR: Shimizu (Jap), Park (Cor)
Rabobank: Flecha (Esp), Posthuma (Hol)
Skil-Shimano: Deroo (Fra), Rooijakkers (Hol)
Doha Team: Chtioui (Tun)
Team Katusha: Pozzato, Napolitano (Ita)
Cervelo Test Team: Hammond (Gbr), Haussler (All)
Download the press release(1 page, .pdf, 221 ko)
Tom Boonen continued his impressive run in Qatar by clinching the event for the second time after 2006 and adding another stage success to his already impressive record. The overall leader ever since stage 2, the master of sprinting kept hold of his golden jersey and this time beat Loddo and Pagliarini to the line on Doha’s Corniche.