Tour of Qatar prologue: Boom beats Cancellara

2.5km opener tests early season form

Dutchman Lars Boom of the Rabobank team deprived Olympic time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara of his first victory in 2011 when he won the opening prologue of the Tour of Qatar on Sunday.

Boom, 25, clocked a time of 3min 07sec for the 2.5km course to leave Cancellara, racing for his new Leopard-Trek team, in second at 4sec adrift.

Another Dutchman, Tom Veelers, took third place a further second back while former three-time race winner Tom Boonen of Belgium (Quick Step) was seventh at 6sec.

Despite the short distance, the entire course was cobble-stoned, with a lot of corners, and buffeted by strong winds.

Boom, a former world champion in cyclo-cross who still competes in the discipline, took it all in his stride as he reached an average speed of 48kph on his way to victory.

"I'm in good form. I've just come out of the cyclo-cross season and this technical circuit really suited me well," said Boom, who is also a former under-23 world time-trial champion.

As well as his Olympic crown, Cancellara last year became the first man in history to win four world time-trial titles.

Despite the comparatively tiny distance compared to the 40-50km courses used in the worlds and Olympics, Boom was still buoyed at beating the big Swiss.

"Beating Cancellara is really special, he's not the world time-trial champion for nothing," added Boom. "It's given me a bit of confidence."

Britain's Mark Cavendish, meanwhile, had to pick himself up from a crash after his front wheel collapsed when the HTC-Highroad sprinter bunny-hopped over a speed hump.

Cavendish, a 15-time stage winner at the Tour de France, suffered injuries to his face and broke his helmet in the process.

It is his second such crash in a month, the Isle of Man rider having suffered cuts to his eye in a nasty spill at the Tour Down Under in January.

His team will decide later on Sunday or early on Monday whether he will race the first stage, held over 145km from Dukhan to Al Khor Corniche.

© AFP 2011

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