Tom Boonen will once again target stage victories at the Tour of Qatar for Team Quick Step. The Belgian will face major competition from Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad), Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek), Theo Bos (Rabobank) and Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli). However key rival Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) will not ride because the Italian rider is suffering with bronchitis.
Boonen, 30, has won the overall title in Qatar three times, most recently in 2009. He was third overall last year.
“I’ve been training well," Boonen said in a press release from the team. "I feel good. I can’t wait to race and see where I stand with respect to the competition.”
The Tour of Qatar is an important race in which we’ve always done well,” said sporting director Wilfried Peeters. “The team’s goal is to win at least one stage.”
Quick Step also announced its line-up for the Tour of Oman (February 15-20). Boonen will again lead the team there, with only three riders changing for the hillier second race in the gulf.
Petacchi out with bronchitis
Lampre-ISD will have to do without star sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, who is suffering from bronchitis, but the team hopes he will be well enough to ride the Tour of Oman.
"For the Tour de Qatar we'll be forced to not rely on our top sprinter Petacchi, who would have been a sure protagonist ,” said sport director Fabrizio Bontempi in a press release. “Anyway, we will be competitive in the sprints thanks to Hondo, who is in a good form also because he has just taken part in Six Days of Berlin. The Tour of Oman's course will be tougher, so I think that Mori could aim to obtain good results. I would like also to focus the attention on our young guns Bole and Malori".
Team Quick Step for the Tour of Qatar: Marco Bandiera (Ita), Tom Boonen (Bel), Francesco Chicchi (Ita), Nikolas Maes (Bel), Frederique Robert (Bel), Andreas Stauff (Ger), Gert Steegmans (Bel), Kevin Van Impe (Bel)
Team Quick Step for the Tour of Oman: Tom Boonen (Bel), Francesco Chicchi (Ita), Marc De Maar (Hol & Curacao), Dries Devenyns (Bel) Nikolas Maes (Bel), Andreas Stauff (Ger), Gert Steegmans (Bel), Kevin Van Impe (Bel)
Team Lampre-ISD for the Tour of Qatar: Grega Bole, Matteo Bono, Danilo Hondo, Vitaliy Kondrut, Dmytro Krivtsov, Adriano Malori and Manuele Mori.