The Manxman rode his way into the leader’s gold jersey, taking not only the victory, but also gaining vital seconds with a first and second at the intermediate sprints.
The race began on the West coast of the Gulf state at the town of Dukhan, crossing to the other side of the country to finish at the Al Khor Corniche, 176 kilometres later.
The entire race was high paced, the peloton remaining together for the first 38km, until they changed direction off the main dual-carriageway. Here, increasing crosswinds split the peloton first into two parts, then subsequently further, until a group of only 21 riders remained, eventually opening the gap to around one minute 20 seconds.
This group, which contained a number of the pre-race favourites, including Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Greg van Avermaet (BMC), both accompanied by three team mates.
Cavendish had Edvald Boasson Hagen and Tyler Farrar with him, though the American was forced to work hard after puncturing with around 65km to ride. Despite this, the group eventually built a lead of around one minute 20 seconds.
That gap was reduced and hovered around one minute for a significant distance, though success was not guaranteed when the chasing group brought it down below 50 seconds with only 10 kilometres left.
However, as the line approached, the break gained momentum under pressure from the BMC team, though it was Katusha who lead the group into the finishing straight.
Tour of Qatar 2016, stage one: Dukhan to Al Khor Corniche, 176km
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data
2. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida
3. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana
4. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
6. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
7. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing
8. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing
9. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Fortuneo-Vital Concept
10. Soren Kragh Andersen (Den) Giant-Alpecin all same time
General classification after stage one
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data
2. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 8 secs
3. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana at 11 secs
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 12 secs
5. Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha at 13 secs
6. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing at 14 secs
7. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18 at 15 secs
8. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data at 15 secs
9. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing at 15 secs
10. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Fortuneo-Vital Concept at 15 secs
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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.
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