The 2012 Tour of Qatar kicks off on Sunday February 5 for six days of sandy, wind-swept action in the Middle East. It offers a relaxed warm-up for classics riders wishing to hone their form away from the harsh winter in Europe.
The event marks the racing debut of world champion Mark Cavendish in Sky team colours. The Manxman has already said that he has committed himself to winning through the entire season, and not just his major targets at the Tour de France and Olympic Games. Will he start with a stage win or two in Qatar?
Traditionally, the race has favoured the sprinters, with Belgian sprinter and former world champion Tom Boonen having won three editions of the race (2006, 2008 and 2009). Blustery cross-winds can split the bunch to pieces, so tactical astuteness can be the key to success - and staying upright.
A total of 16 teams will line up in Qatar for the UCI 2.1-ranked race, each fielding eight riders to bring the start list to 128 participants.
Britain is represented at the event by Mark Cavendish (Sky), Ian Stannard (Sky), Jeremy Hunt (Sky), Adam Blythe (BMC Racing) and Alex Coutts (RTS Racing).
Last year's edition of the race was won by Mark Renshaw riding for HTC-Highroad after team leader Cavendish suffered a nasty crash. Former Cavendish lead-out man Renshaw returns for 2012 with new team Rabobank. Given that he is now establishing himself as a sprinter in his own right, will Renshaw contest the bunch gallops against former team-mate Cavendish? Or will he be saving his energy for later in the season?
Both Cavendish and Renshaw will be mixing with some serious horsepower, with Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Thor Hushovd (BMC), Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda), Robbie McEwen (GreenEdge), Peter Sagan (Liquigas) , Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) all on the provisional start list.
Top-placed Briton in last year's race, Roger Hammond, is not in attendance as he is no longer with a
ProTeam, having failed to find a contract at the end of 2011.
The men's race is preceded by the women's Tour of Qatar over February 1-3 2012, won by German Judith Arndt.
Tour of Qatar 2012: Latest news
Kluge defends himself over Cavendish crash
Jack Bauer: From Tour Series to the Qatar podium
Blythe rues missed opportunity in Qatar
Cavendish: "I fear Goss"
Tour of Qatar blog #2
Tour of Qatar blog #1
Sick Cavendish misses training in Qatar
Arndt seals women's Tour of Qatar win
Worrack and Arndt take control in women's Tour of Qatar (stage two)
Wild uses wiles to win women's Tour of Qatar opener
Tour of Qatar 2012: Stage reports
All stage reports by Andy McGrath
Stage six: Cavendish crashes in Qatar as Demaure takes first pro victory
Stage five: Cavendish wins again in Qatar
Stage four: Boonen wins as crosswinds dramatically split race
Stage three: Cavendish takes first win in rainbow jerseyStage two: Garmin-Barracuda claim Qatar TTT
Stage one: Boonen denies Blythe in Qatar
Tour of Qatar 2012: Photo galleries
All galleries by Graham Watson
Tour of Qatar 2012 stage six photo gallery
Tour of Qatar 2012 stage five photo gallery
Tour of Qatar 2012 stage four photo gallery
Tour of Qatar 2012 stage three photo gallery
Tour of Qatar 2012 stage two photo gallery
Tour of Qatar 2012 stage one photo gallery
Tour of Qatar 2012: Stages
Sunday, February 5 - Stage 1: Barzan Towers to Doha Golf Club, 142.5km
Monday, February 6 - Stage 2: Lusail to Lusail, team time trial, 11.3km
Tuesday, February 7 - Stage 3: Dukhan to Al Gharafa Stadium, 146.5km
Wednesday, February 8 - Stage 4: Al Thakhira to Madinat Al Shamal, 144km
Thursday, February 9 - Stage 5: Camel Race Track to Al Khor Corniche, 160km
Friday, February 10 - Stage 6: Sealine Beach Resort to Doha Corniche, 120km
Tour of Qatar 2012: Teams
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Bridgestone Anchor (Japan)
Champion System (China)
Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli (Italy)
FDJ-Big Mat (France)
Omega Pharma-Quickstep (Belgium)
Project 1t4i (Netherlands)
RTS Racing Team (Taiwan)
Team Sky (Great Britain)
Tour of Qatar 2012: TV schedule
British satellite and digital channel British Eurosport will broadcast live coverage and highlights of the 2012 Tour of Qatar.
Sunday, February 5, 12.15-1pm: Stage 1 LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Sunday, February 5, 3.30-4pm: Stage 1 highlights, British Eurosport 2
Monday, February 6, 12-1pm: Stage 2 LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Monday, February 6, 7-8pm: Stage 2 highlights, British Eurosport 2
Monday, February 6, 11pm-midnight: Stage 2 highlights, British Eurosport 2
Tuesday, February 7, 12-1pm: Stage 3 LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Tuesday, February 7, 2-3pm: Stage 3 highlights, British Eurosport 2
Wednesday, February 8, 12-1pm: Stage 4 LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Wednesday, February 8, 11pm-12midnight: Stage 4 highlights, British Eurosport 2
Thursday, February 9, 12-1pm: Stage 5 LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Thursday, February 9, 11.30pm-12.30am: Stage 5 highlights, British Eurosport 2
Friday, February 10, 12-1pm: Stage 6 LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Friday, February 10, 10.30-11.30pm: Stage 6 highlights, British Eurosport 2
Mark Renshaw tops 2011 Qatar podium
Tour of Qatar: Last year's top ten (2011)
1. Mark Renshaw (Aus) HTC-Highroad in 15-31-04
2. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin-Cervelo at 8secs
3. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Leopard-Trek at 17secs
4. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Team Sky at 26secs
5. Roger Hammond (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at 38secs
6. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Team Sky at 39secs
7. Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Garmin-Cervelo at 42secs
8. Bernhard Eisel (Aut) HTC-Highroad at 1-05
9. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing at 1-33
10. Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quick Step at 1-35
Tour of Qatar: Previous winners
2011: Mark Renshaw
2010: Wouter Mol
2009: Tom Boonen
2008: Tom Boonen
2007: Wilfried Cretskens
2006: Tom Boonen
2005: Lars Michaelsen
2004: Robert Hunter
2003: Alberto Lodo
2002: Thorsten Wilhelms
Tour of Qatar 2011 coverage index
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Nigel Wynn worked as associate editor on CyclingWeekly.com, he worked almost single-handedly on the Cycling Weekly website in its early days. His passion for cycling, his writing and his creativity, as well as his hard work and dedication, were the original driving force behind the website’s success. Without him, CyclingWeekly.com would certainly not exist on the size and scale that it enjoys today. Nigel sadly passed away, following a brave battle with a cancer-related illness, in 2018. He was a highly valued colleague, and more importantly, n exceptional person to work with - his presence is sorely missed.
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