Tour of Qatar 2011 prologue photo gallery>>

Dutchman Lars Boom (Rabobank) took a committed win in the short opening prologue time trial of the 2011 Tour of Qatar on Sunday. Britain’s Alex Dowsett made an impressive debut for Team Sky in fifth.

Former cyclo-cross world champion Boom leapt from the starting block at full gas, obviously aiming to place highly on the 2.5-kilometre course and live up to being one of the pre-stage favourites. He used his bike handling skills honed from his ‘cross career to provide a masterclass in cornering on the tricky course.

Time trial world champion Fabian Cancellara made his first outing for the new Leopard-Trek squad but couldn’t beat Boom’s blistering time, coming home second fastest four seconds adrift of the Dutchman.

Any riders hoping for an easy start to their racing year will have been presented with a shock. The tight circuit around the Doha Cultural Village featured 11 corners, gusty winds and a sandy, cobbled surface. To add to the fun, race rules stipulated that all riders must use their regular road bikes rather than time trial-specific machines.

Second from last off, Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) ended up on the floor having fallen victim to the course. Although he got back on and finished the stage, it’s another unfortunate set-back for Cavendish, who is still sporting scars from a serious crash at the the Tour Down Under in January.

Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha put down the early marker, eventually finishing fourth. Team-mate Alex Dowsett made a solid debut in Sky colours, finishing just behind Flecha in fifth and six seconds behind Boom. It was an impressive start for 22-year-old Dowsett in his first race in the senior ranks proper having switched from the Trek-Livestrong development squad to Sky for 2011.

Like many riders mindful of the long season ahead, British time trial champion Bradley Wiggins (Sky) played it cautiously to come in 29th, 13 seconds down on Boom. Russell Downing (Sky) placed well in 22nd, a good position for an assault on the overall classification later this week.

On Monday, the riders face the first road stage of the 2011 Tour of Qatar – a 145.5km trip from Dukhan to Al Khor Corniche. The six-day race concludes on Friday, February 11.

Tour of Qatar 2011, prologue: Cultural Village to Cultural Village, 2.5km
1. Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank in 3-07-39

2. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Leopard-Trek at 4secs
3. Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil-Shimano at 5secs
4. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Team Sky at 5secs
5. Alex Dowsett (GB) Team Sky at 6secs
6. Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quick Step at 6secs
7. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step at 6secs
8. Maarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank at 8secs
9. Tomas Vaitkus (Lit) Astana at 8secs
10. Matt Brammeier (Irl) HTC-Highroad at 9secs
22. Russell Downing (GB) Team Sky at 12secs
28. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at 13secs
29. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky at 13secs
39. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Team Sky 15secs
41. Ian Stannard (GB) Team Sky 15secs
52. Andrew Fenn (GB) An Post-Sean Kelly at 16secs
72. Roger Hammond (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at 17secs
92. Mark McNally (GB) An Post-Sean Kelly at 21secs
126. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad at 1-13

Overall classification after prologue
Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank
2. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Leopard-Trek
3. Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil-Shimano
4. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Team Sky
5. Alex Dowsett (GB) Team Sky
6. Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quick Step
7. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
8. Maarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank
9. Tomas Vaitkus (Lit) Astana
10. Matt Brammeier (Irl) HTC-Highroad

Lars Boom wins Tour of Qatar 2011, prologue

Lars Boom powers to win the prologue

Fabian Cancellara, second, Tour of Qatar 2011, prologue

2011 debut: Fabian Cancellara placed second

Russell Downing, Tour of Qatar 2011, prologue

Russell Downing

Alex Dowsett, fifth, Tour of Qatar 2011, prologue

Alex Dowsett cruised to fifth

Jeremy Hunt, Tour of Qatar 2011, prologue

Jeremy Hunt

Tour of Qatar 2011: Related links

Tour of Qatar 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

  • Jasper

    There is a difference between wanting to be good and being good. Two years ago Wiggins was good, last year it didn’t happen, this year i think will be make or break for him. Maybe last year wasn’t a good one for him or maybe after this season we can conclude that 2009 was an exceptional year and he won’t be able to perform at that level again.

    Anyway that has little to do with a serious professional not risking a crash in what seems to have been more of a circus act than a serious time trial at the start of the season. It’s so easy to critise, not quite as easy to get in the right shape for competing in the biggest bike races of the year.

  • Hadyn Bosher @ 78 in Thailand

    Jasper. Tell me what races he really wants to be good in ? and if last season was anything to go by, he won’t be this year either.Take today for example,the team leader “THEY SAID”. 5 minutes down!!

  • Jasper

    Why would Wiggins give it all right at the start of the season and risk crashing on what was obviously a very tricky course? Get real guys, he’s only there to prepare for the races he really wants to be good in and he’s not going to take silly risks.

    On another note, congrats to my fellow Dutchman Lars Boom 🙂

  • Hadyn Bosher @ 78 in Thailand

    Mike. you are dead right,whatever they paid him to sign fo Sky, i reckon he should give it back.he’s hardly raced, and you can take that whichever way you like, and when he does ride it’s a dismall peformence.!!

  • mauhum

    With all those cones in the background, they look as though they’re taking their cycling proficiency tests (O:

  • Mike

    “Mindfull of the long season ahead……..Wiggins played it cautiously”. Yet more excuses for Brad from the media.
    Is it going to be another season like 2010 where he never really got out of third gear and gave it everything.
    He is the British TT champ and raining olympic persuit champion for goodness sake, If he cant do better than 29th in a discipline that is his speciality what hope for the rest of the year.
    Brad, give it a go for christs sake. Its beter to fail trying to win than be nowhere and anonymous.