Four-time Tour of Qatar champion Tom Boonen believes Bradley Wiggins will be the biggest threat to Etixx-Quick Step’s chances of overall victory in the six-day race that begins in Dukhan tomorrow.
Boonen last won the race in 2012, but Etixx has won the two editions since with Mark Cavendish and Niki Terpstra.
But with a 10-kilometre, flat time trial at Lusail included in this year’s race on day three, four-time Paris-Roubaix champion Boonen has singled out the Team Sky rider as the team’s main rival.
“Wiggins is our main contender for win because of the time trial, so we will try and get gap on him in other stages,” he said.
“Every time we come here it is to pursue the overall victory. We will try to do well from the first day, as starting well in this race is most important thing.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s first stage, which finishes at the frequently windy Sealine Beach, Boonen added: “Maybe we will get a gap on our rivals tomorrow.
“It’s almost a one of a kind race. Nowhere in the world do you get gruelling circumstances like the wind. If you’re a powerful rider, you can take advantage of that.”
Speaking earlier, Wiggins said of the Belgian team: “There’s only so much space when it does break up into echelons – normally only 25 riders or so, so you keep your eyes on those guys when it starts going.”