By Gregor Brown in Doha, Qatar
Bradley Wiggins opened his first season with Team Garmin-Slipstream by winning gold in the six-kilometre time trial at the Tour of Qatar in Doha. The Briton led over the line to claim the overall classification and the golden leader's jersey.
"There are some really important time trials coming up for us this year the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France and to get the first one like this is fantastic, for JV [General Manager Jonathan Vaughters - ed.] and everyone. It's what this team is all about," Wiggins said to Cyclingnews. It was the Briton's first victory on the road since the Duo Normand two-man time trial in 2007.
Garmin had sent Ricardo Van Der Velde to the front early in the time trial but the Argyle-clad team used up two more of its eight men William Frischkorn and Martyn Maaskant before the finish with Wiggins leading Hans Dekkers, Kilian Patour, Michael Friedman and Huub Duyn over the line.
"There was no plan," said Wiggins to explain why he led the group over the line. "To be honest, we did not expect to win it, just to get into the top three or five would have been a good result."
The next five days of the Tour of Qatar are sprinters' stages thanks to their flat profiles. The time bonuses on offer will mean that Wiggins will likely lose his gold jersey by the end of stage two.
"It will be difficult with [Mark] Cavendish, [Tom] Boonen and riders like that. If we can get Hans Dekkers in the results somewhere, great, but this [team time trial] was the big one for us.
"We will have another go at the team time trial at the Tour Méditerranéen. We will have [David] Millar, Ryder Hesjedal there for that one."
Garmin won the team time trial of the Giro d'Italia and Tour de Georgia in 2008.
Wiggins turned professional in 2001. He rode for Team Columbia in 2008 and will next race at the Tour Méditerranéen and Paris-Nice.