Tom Boonen has been the dominating rider in the Tour of Qatar in the last few years. But this year his domination could be less stellar, as he will face Mark Cavendish, the new young sprinter from Team Columbia-High Road. Cavendish won four stages at the Tour de France in 2008, which was only his second year in the big races.
Boonen managed to win at least one stage in Qatar in every edition he entered since 2004. He won the overall on two occasions, in 2006 and 2008. In 2006 and 2007 he won all but one of the stages (counting the team time trial victory with his Quick Step team in 2007).
Other sprinters will hope to weigh in as well, with Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas), Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) or Robert Förster (Milram) trying to surprise the two top sprinters.
The 17 teams in Qatar: Milram, Quick Step, Silence - Lotto, TopSport Vlaanderen-Mercator, Drapac – Porsche Cycling, BMC Racing Team, Garmin-Slipstream, Team Columbia-High Road, AG2R La Mondiale, Lampre-N.G.C., Liquigas, Meitan Hompo-GDR, Rabobank, Skil-Shimano, Doha Team, Team Katusha, Cervélo TestTeam