Bradley Wiggins will make his debut in Sky colours at the Tour of Qatar starting in the Middle Eastern emirate on Sunday (February 7).
The Briton formed part of the team time trial-winning outfit at Garmin last year – which put Wiggins in the yellow jersey – and returns this year looking to make the first step towards his preparation for the Tour de France this July.
British interest in the race will be strong this year with seven Britons set to ride.
Alex Dowsett will also make his debut in Trek Livestrong colours, joining fellow time-trialling sensation Taylor Phinney to make for some formidable opposition for Sky in the opening team test.
As much as providing an early-season form guide for those looking to peak later in the year, Qatar is also a key stepping stone for Classics riders to reacquaint themselves with vicious cross winds and nervous bunch racing.
Sky will be sending a Classics-dominated line-up with Edvald Boasson Hagen and Juan Antonio Flecha both looking to stretch their winter legs, whilst Quick Step, winners of the race for the past four years, will be sending Tom Boonen and Kevin Van Impe.
What can we expect? Sand, crosswinds, bunch sprints and some fierce racing.
Last year’s winner, Boonen, rides in yellow
Tour of Qatar 2010: Stages
Sunday, February 7: Stage 1 – West Bay Lagoon-West Bay Lagoon, 8.2km TTT, Report>>, Photos>>
Monday, February 8: Stage 2 – Camel Race Track-Qatar Foundation, 147km, Report>>, Photos>>
Tuesday, February 9: Stage 3 – Dukhan-Mesaieed, 136.5km, Report>>, Photos>>
Wednesday, February 10: Stage 4 – The Pearl-Al Khor Corniche, 146.5km, Report>>, Photos>>
Thursday, February 11: Stage 5 – Lusail-Madinat Al Shamal, 142km, Report>>, Photos>>
Friday, February 12: Stage 6 – Al Wakra-Doha Corniche, 123.5km, Report>>
Total distance: 704km
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Tour of Qatar 2010: Teams
16 teams are lined up for the Tour of Qatar, with eight riders in each squad.
BMC Racing Team
Cervelo Test Team
Tour of Qatar: Sun, sand and cycling
Tour of Qatar 2010: British riders
Start list to be confirmed
Roger Hammond (Cervelo Test Team)
Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo Test Team)
Alex Dowsett (Trek-Livestrong)
Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)
Ben Swift (Team Sky)
Russell Downing (Team Sky)
Chris Froome (Team Sky)
Tour of Qatar 2010: Television coverage
The Tour of Qatar will be shown on satellite and cable channel British Eurosport. Live coverage of the race is split between Eurosport and Eurosport 2. Highlights will be shown each evening.
Sunday, February 7: 11:00-12:00, stage 1 LIVE, Eurosport 2
Sunday, February 7: 12:15-13:00, stage 1, Eurosport
Monday, February 8: 12:00-13:00, stage 2 LIVE, Eurosport
Tuesday, February 9: 12:00-13:00, stage 3 LIVE, Eurosport 2
Wednesday, February 10: 11:45-13:00, stage 4 LIVE, Eurosport 2
Thursday, February 11: 12:00-13:00, stage 5 LIVE, Eurosport 2
Friday, February 12: 11:00-12:00, stage 6 LIVE, Eurosport
Tour of Qatar: Previous winners
2009: Tom Boonen
2008: Tom Boonen
2007: Wilfried Cretskens
2006: Tom Boonen
2005: Lars Michaelsen
2004: Robert Hunter
2003: Alberto Lodo
2002: Thorsten Wilhelms
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Bradley Wiggins set to make Team Sky debut at 2010 Tour of Qatar
2009 Tour of Qatar photo gallery
2010 UCI World Calendar: ProTour and Historic races
Cycling Weekly: Rider Profiles index