By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Known as the best lead-out man in the business, Italo-American Guido Trenti has been the pilot fish for sprinter sharks like Mario Cipollini, Alessandro Petacchi and, since 2005, Tom Boonen. World Champ Boonen started his 2006 season in the best way possible in the Doha GP, winning his first UCI race with his rainbow jersey of World Champion right out of the box. After his Quick.Step-Innergetic team controlled the race, Guido Trenti and and new QS signing Matteo Tosatto provided a perfect set-up for Tornado Tom to blast Phonak's Robbie Hunter and Milram's Erik Zabel by two bike lengths for the win.
After the Qatar race, La Gazzetta dello Sport's Claudio Ghisalberti talked to Guido Trenti, who said, "Tom just has two more speeds than the competition. In the sprint, there were four Phonak riders there but they couldn't even hold his wheel! We could see how strong Tom was in our team training camp and this the right way to start the season."
Newcomer Tosatto echoed his friend and training partner Trenti, explaining, "Trenti and I gave Tom an Italian style leadout like we did for Petacchi. I don't think Tom has ever had a real lead-out train like that and now that we've organized it, I think we'll be able to help Tom a lot in the sprints." Boonen then saluted 'Toso' in his first '06 win after the victory, saying, "Matteo did an extraordinary job in his lead-out. He hit the front with 1200 meters to go and peeled off with 500 meters to go. We were flying! Then I had De Jongh and made my move about 200 meters to go."
Also on hand in Qatar was Eddy Merckx, who raced against Tom's father Andre, who was a journeyman kermesse rider in Belgium. Merckx paid homage to Tom Terrific, saying, "Tom is an old-style racer; he rides all season long to win. It shows that for the great riders, nothing has changed in cycling. He's really incredibly strong now and I think he can win any classic now, even Liege-Bastogne-Liege."
Already in his first race, Bad Boy Boonen has the competition worried, as third place Erik Zabel commented post-race in Qatar "Against a Boonen like that, there's nothing you can do!"