Boonen to lead QuickStep at Abu Dhabi Tour

With Mark Cavendish having to pull out with an injured shoulder, Tom Boonen will pick up leadership of the six-rider Etixx-QuickStep squad at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour later this month. 

The 2.1 event will be Boonen's first competition since since the World Championships, where he animated the road race with an attack on the penultimate lap.

Gianluca Brambilla, Fabio Sabatini, Stijn Vandenbergh, Carlos Verona and Lukasz Wisniowski will join Boonen in the four-day race that begins October 8.

"It's a good way to finish the season under the sun of Abu Dhabi," Boonen said in a statement released by his team.

"The parcours has two flat stages and one mountain stage that we have to see how hard it will be," Boonen said. "The last stage will be a circuit, so I think we will gave some ambition there to go for the sprints. We're not sure if there will be wind, however, so that is a big question mark for everyone. I'm excited to find out about this race."

Director Davide Bramati said the team is betting on Boonen's finishing kick to bring results on the three of four stages that could favour a bunch kick.

"There are at least a couple of stages for riders with his skills," Bramati said. "On the uphill finish we can count on Brambilla, who did a good Vuelta, and he kept training and stayed focus for the end of the season."

Boonen will have his work cut out for him in the fast finishes, with the likes of newly crowned World Champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) on the start list, along with Orica-GreenEdge's Michael Matthews, who took silver in Richmond.


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