For the eighth consecutive year, Tom Boonen will begin his season with the Tour of Qatar in early February. It will be his first race in a season that sees him trying to return to his best after suffering knee problems and surgery in 2010.
The former World champion has ridden in Qatar every year since 2004. He has finished in every position from fourth on up, taking the overall title three times. He has also won 19 stages.
“When something is good, you don't change it,” Quick Step sport director Wilfried Peeters told Het Laatste Nieuws. “This is the best preparation for Tom for the Belgian opening weekend.”
“Tom is a familiar face in Qatar,” Peeters continued, and “must not miss” the tenth edition of the race, which runs February 6-11.
Boonen will stay in the Middle East and take on the Tour of Oman (February 16-20), where he won a stage last year.
Those two races will set the 30-year-old up for the first Belgian races, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (February 26) and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne (February 27). From there he will ride Tirreno-Adriatico (March 9-15) and Milano-SanRemo (March 19) before taking on the rest of the spring Flemish races and Paris-Roubaix.
Boonen had a shortened season last year due to knee problems, which ended with surgery in July, causing him to miss the Tour de France. He returned to racing briefly in October.