Omega Pharma-Quick Step led by Mark Cavendish in the Tour of Qatar
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Omega Pharma-Quick Step led by Mark Cavendish in the Tour of Qatar

by Ben Atkins at 1:57 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Qatar
Zdeněk Štybar to replace Tom Boonen after Belgian champion’s recent elbow surgery

mark cavendishOmega Pharma-Quick Step has confirmed that Tom Boonen will not be on the start line of the Tour of Qatar, between February 3rd and 8th, with his place taken by two-time cyclocross World champion Zdeněk Štybar. Boonen recently underwent surgery on a serious infection on his left elbow, and the enforced layoff means that he will not be fit to race.

The Belgian champion is the most successful rider in the desert race’s history, having won overall on four occasions, and taken a total of 20 stage victories along the way.

"This year Tom Boonen won't be at the start," explained directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters. "Tom was the specialist of the race. He won at least one stage every year, and was the record man of victories at Tour of Qatar.

“This year he can't attend, so we will focus our attention on other riders, and of course Mark Cavendish,” Peeters continued. “We are happy to have a rider like Mark with us, who has already won stages. He knows the parcours and the conditions we will find in Qatar. We will work for him, to give him the best situation for the sprint. But we also have other riders who can do well in Qatar.

Boonen’s absence means that his first race alongside the Manx former World champion has been delayed, but Peeters is confident that the team that has taken the race on five of its 11 previous editions will have a big part to play.

“We have a strong team there,” he said. “We will try to win at least one stage, and put at least one rider in the high part of the GC.

"OPQS specialises in these kinds of races in the desert, with a lot of wind," he added. "Mark can benefit from the experience of the team on this kind of parcours."

Omega Pharma-Quick Step team for the Tour of Qatar
Mark Cavendish, Iljo Keisse, Zdeněk Štybar, Niki Terpstra, Matteo Trentin, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Stijn Vandenbergh and Martin Velits


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