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Tom Boonen, already the winner of Saturday's Doha International in Qatar, won today's opening stage of the Tour of Qatar. The world champion took the final sprint in a wind-battered run of 131 kilometres the Khalifa de Doha stadium and the Al Khor Corniche.
Erik Zabel and Robert Hunter, who finished on the podium with Boonen on Saturday, were again his closest rivals, but with the German this time getting the better of the South African. Victory for Boonen put him in the overall lead in the five-day race.
Boonen was the obvious favourite in an 18-rider break that went clear in high winds running into the finish. "The wind was the decisive factor," said Quick Step DS Wilfried Peeters "The guys did well not to be surprised by the wind and in the final Tom was able to count on the support of five team-mates. In the last kilometre, first Trenti, then Tosatto and then De Jongh worked splendidly for Tom so that he began his sprint about 200 metres from the finish line."
The world champion was very satisfied with his second consecutive victory. "Today the team made the difference," explained Boonen. "Now I also have the leader's jersey, but for the moment I don't want to think about the general classification. The most important thing is to be in good condition and try to fine-tune the running of our 'train' in the final sprint."
Stage 1, Khalifa Stadium-Al Khor Corniche
1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic 131.5km in 2.56.34 (44.69kph)
2 Erik Zabel (Ger)Milram
3 Robert Hunter (SA) Phonak
4 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) CSC
5 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) Phonak
6 Aurlien Clerc (Swi) Phonak
7 Nick Ingels (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto
8 Sebastien Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner
9 Aart Vierhouten (Hol) Skil-Shimano
10 Steven de Jongh (Hol) Quick Step
1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic 2.56.24
2 Zabel 0.04.
3 Clerc 0.05.
4 Hunter 0.06.
5 De Jongh 0.07.
6 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) 0.09 Phonak
7 Cancellara 0.10.
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM