DOHA: Belgian Tom Boonen won the first stage of the Tour of Qatar, extending his record as the most successful rider in the history of the event (19 stage wins).
He completed the 142.5km first stage from Barzan Towers to the Doha Golf Club in three hrs, 11mins and 22sec.
The former world road racing champion, who rides for the Omega Pharma Quick-Step team, finished four seconds ahead of Briton Adam Blythe (BMC Racing Team) and six seconds in front of Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale).
British rider Mark Cavendish disappointed big time. He had been ill before the start of the race and it showed. He finished a disappointing 51st, 10 seconds behind the Belgian. The disappointing show has dealt a serious blow to his title aspirations.
On Monday, the team time trial will be held around a 11km track at the parking lot of the Losail International Circuit.