Boonen crowned Tour of Qatar champion

Wins final stage in Doha

Belgium's Tom Boonen of Team Quick Step was crowned champion of the Tour of Qatar in Doha on Friday.

The former world champion sprinted home to win the sixth and final stage, a shortened 101km ride in blustery conditions from Al Wakra to Doha, for his second title in Qatar after a first success in 2006.

It was Boonen's third stage win of this race, the Belgian having posted a second place in the fourth stage and third in the fifth stage while the Quick Step team won the opening team time-trial.

In the overall standings, Boonen finished 27sec ahead of Dutch team-mate Steven De Jongh with fellow Belgian Greg Van Avermaet a further 13sec adrift.

"I'm very happy," said Boonen. "This Tour of Qatar is really ideal during winter.

"The good weather (except for Friday), the small time difference, and stages posing no difficulties all help to stretch the legs," said the Belgian who took to 16 his combined total of stage wins since his debut in 2004.

Boonen will now carry on his training for the Spring classics in Europe by competing in the Tour of California.

"My first big goal will be the Milan-Sanremo," he said, adding he would compete in the Het Volk on March 1.

"I'm optimistic because when I leave Qatar with good feelings, the races that follow often go well."

© AFP 2008

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