Tour of Qatar Stage 1: Boonen takes opening stage, recuperating Cavendish takes it easy

Belgian former world champ takes opening stage of race he has won three times

by Simon_MacMichael   February 5, 2012  

Tour of Qatar 2012 Parcours

The pre-race talk at the Tour of Qatar was all about world champion Mark Cavendish, who overcame illness to make his debut for Team Sky, but it was one of his predecessors in the rainbow jersey, Tom Boonen of Omega Pharma-Quick Step who won the opening stage of the race today from Bahan Towers to Doha Golf Club. Cavendish, presumably under orders to take things easy ahead of tomorrow's team time trial, didn't contest the sprint, in which Great Britain's Adam Blythe, now with BMC, finished second, with Peter Sagan of Liquigas-Cannondale third.

Boonen's victory today marks his 19th individual stage win in the Tour of Qatar, and its also his second victory of 2012 - last week, he won Stage 7 of the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. To round of a good day for Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Britain's Andy Fenn, in his first season as a top-flight pro with the Belgian team, is reported to have won the opening day of the Mallorca challenge.

It was another young British rider with Belgian connections who pushed Boonen closest today when the former world champion launched an early bid for the line. Adam Blythe, aged 22, had spent the last two seasons with Omega Pharma-Lotto before heading to BMC Racing alongside world number-one Philippe Gilbert.

As for Cavendish, cleared to race only this morning as he recovered from a bug he had come down with while flying from London to Doha, he could be seen in the final kilometres sitting towards the rear of the peloton.

Instead it was the young Italian sprinter Davide Appolonio who contested the finish for Team Sky, coming home in eighth place, although he is fifth overall having picked up a time bonus earlier in the day.

Tomorrow’s team time trial covers 11.4km and starts and finishes in Lusali.

Tour of Qatar Stage 1 Result  

1  BOONEN Tom                 OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP    3h 11' 32"
2  BLYTHE Adam                BMC RACING TEAM          All at same time
3  SAGAN Peter                LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE
4  FARRAR Tyler               GARMIN-BARRACUDA
5  OSS Daniel                 LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE
6  RENSHAW Mark               RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM
7  KRISTOFF Alexander         KATUSHA TEAM
8  APPOLLONIO Davide          SKY PROCYCLING
9  VAN GENECHTEN Jonas        LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM
10 WAGNER Robert              RADIOSHACK-NISSAN
11 DEMARE Arnaud              FDJ-BIGMAT
12 NIZZOLO Giacomo            RADIOSHACK-NISSAN
13 CHICCHI Francesco          OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP
14 SIEBERG Marcel             LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM
15 STEEGMANS Gert             OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP
16 DEGENKOLB John             PROJECT 1T4I
17 SOUPE GEOFFREY             FDJ-BIGMAT
18 COOKE Baden                GREENEDGE CYCLING TEAM
19 VAN KEIRSBULCK Guillaume   OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP
20 BAK Lars                   LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM

Tour of Qatar Overall Standings after Stage 1  

1  BOONEN Tom                 OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP    3h 11' 22"
2  BLYTHE Adam                BMC RACING TEAM             + 00' 04"
3  SAGAN Peter                LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE         + 00' 06"
4  FARRAR Tyler               GARMIN-BARRACUDA            + 00' 07"
5  HANSEN Adam                LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM          + 00' 07"
6  APPOLLONIO Davide          SKY PROCYCLING              + 00' 08"
7  HALLER Marco               KATUSHA TEAM                + 00' 08"
8  RENSHAW Mark               RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM       + 00' 09"
9  MAES Nikolas               OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP     + 00' 09"
10 OSS Daniel                 LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE         + 00' 10"

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