Boonen opts for Qatar and Oman over Santos Tour Down Under
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Monday, December 27, 2010

Boonen opts for Qatar and Oman over Santos Tour Down Under

by Conal Andrews at 5:42 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Qatar
Belgian sprinter to follow traditional race programme

Tom BoonenMany of the sports top sprinters will cross swords for the first time in 2011 in the Santos Tour Down Under but Tom Boonen prefers to follow his traditional early-season programme. As is the case with previous seasons, the 30 year old Belgian will begin racing at the Tour of Qatar, which runs from February 6 – 11 this year. He will then travel to the Tour of Oman, which begins on February 15 and last six days.

“What is good doesn’t need changing,” his Quick Step directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters told Het Nieuwsblad. “This is the best start for the opening weekend in Belgium [Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne]. Tom has been a familiar face in Qatar. He won’t be missing from the birthday [the tenth anniversary of the race].

Boonen has an excellent record in the Gulf races, winning the Tour of Qatar in 2006, 2008 and 2009, and netting nineteen stage wins. He also picked up a stage in this season’s Tour of Oman, the first edition of the race.

Sprinting rivals Mark Cavendish (HTC Highroad), André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo), Allan Davis (Astana) and Robbie McEwen (Team RadioShack) have opted to begin their seasons in Australia, thus getting things underway some three weeks earlier than Boonen. In his absence, Gerald Ciolek and Francesco Chicchi will lead the Quick Step team.

The nature of the Tour Down Under course means that the winner is often a strong sprinter who can get over short, steep climbs. Greipel won in 2008 and 2010, while Davis took top honours in 2009. On  good form, Boonen could certainly be a contender, but he's not willing to buck tradition and change a familiar programme.


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