By Susan Westemeyer
The Tour of Qatar is doing something new in 2007: it will be opening with a six-kilometer long team time trial in the city of Doha, on Sunday, January 28. That will be followed by five "flat and straight" stages throughout the land.
In announcing the stages, the tour organizers noted that, "If he is true to his traditional start of season, Tom Boonen...could embark upon a new series of victories. But there is also every chance that the ex-Belgian world champion will face fierce opposition from the Italian rider Alessandro Petacchi, eager to test his finish in the Middle East after a season disrupted by injuries in 2006."
While the race marks the start of the season for the European riders, it is a season highlight for other participants. Iran has been asked to put together a team, since Iranian cyclists hold the first three places in the Asia Tour continental ranking. In addition, Qatar, Bahrain and The United Arab Erimates will join together in a mixed team.
The 2007 route
Stage 1: Sunday, January 28, 2007 - Cornice Doha, team time trial, 6km
Stage 2: Monday, January 29, 2007 - Al Wakra - Qatar Olympic Committee, 135.5km
Stage 3: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 - Dohat Salwa - Kahlifa Stadium, 140km
Stage 4: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 - Camel Race Track - Doha Golf Club, 139.5km
Stage 5: Thursday, February 1, 2007 - Al Zubarah - Mesaieed, 160.5km
Stage 6: Friday, February 2, 2007 - Sealine Beach Resort - Doha Corniche, 134km