Lars Boom (Rabobank) took the first golden jersey of the Tour of Qatar in Doha on Sunday with a masterful display of bike handling over the cobblestones streets of the Cultural Village overlooking the Doha skyline. The Dutchman explained after the race that the twisting layout of the prologue circuit was ideally suited to his capabilities.
"If it was 2.5km out and back course, it wouldn't have been good for me, but the corners and the acceleration after the corners were very good for me, it helped a lot," Boom told Cyclingnews before climbing onto the podium to pull on the race leader’s golden jersey.
Boom took his fifth consecutive Dutch cyclo-cross championship in January and made full use of those bike-handling skills to put four seconds into world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek). While Boom was pleased to beat the rainbow jersey into second place, he was keen to keep his achievement in perspective.
"I'm happy that I beat Cancellara. Of course it's special to beat the world champion in a time trial, but winning here is more special for me than for him maybe. It was only 2.5km,” he said.
Boom also explained that having ridden over the course five or six times in the morning, he realised that he needed to run a lower tyre pressure than normal in order to counteract the effects of the cobbles.
With a 10-second time bonus on offer to Monday's stage winner, along with three-second time bonuses up for grabs at the two intermediate sprints, Boom is aware that his lead is precarious.
"I'm only four seconds in front of Cancellara and five ahead of Veelers," he warned, with Tom Boonen (Quick Step) just a further second behind.
However, Boom believes that his Rabobank team have a number of different cards to play at the Tour of Qatar and he is confident that his squad will cope well with the exposed roads and windy conditions that so often characterise the race.
"The other guys on the team rode pretty well too," he said. "[Maarten] Wynants made the top 10 too, and a lot of the other guys went well. I think tomorrow will bring a lot of wind so we will try to defend the jersey."