DOHA, Qatar (VN) — Rabobank’s Lars Boom put his cyclocross skills and power to their best use Sunday, winning a technical prologue to take the first leader’s jersey of the 2011 Tour of Qatar.
Boom, a former cyclocross world champion, bested world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) by four seconds. Skil-Shimano’s Tom Veelers was third, another second back.
The prologue was held on a sinuous 2.5km course that wove around a massive brand new civic area/beach park/retail development in Doha.
The course started by rolling out of a shiny new stone amphitheater and then wound through traffic cones and around tight roundabouts, up and down small curbs and over a large metal speed bump — all of this on granite cobbles or paving stones, and in gusty winds.
“It suited me, a lot of corners … I liked the circuit,” said Boom. “I tried my best and I was relaxing before the start so that’s always good.”
However, Boom did not sound overly confident of his ability to hold on to the jersey through the five stages.
“I have four seconds on Cancellara, and then how many seconds do I have on the sprinters? Every day it’s going to be a sprint. My form is OK, let’s try to make the best of it and see what happens,” he said.
The most dangerous sprinter is probably three-time Qatar overall winner Tom Boonen (Quick Step), who sits six seconds behind Boom, in seventh place. HTC-Highroad’s Mark Renshaw is only nine seconds back, in 12th.
Intermediate sprints on the road stages award 3-, 2- and 1-second bonuses, while stage results generate 10-, 6- and 4-second bonuses.
One rider who will not threaten Boom’s overall lead is Renshaw’s teammate Mark Cavendish. Cavendish, who started next to last, crashed and crossed the line dejected in last place, 1:13 behind Boom.
Boonen, the day’s final starter, passed Cavendish on the final straight.
Cavendish’s team later told reporters that he went down after his front wheel collapsed when he bunny-hopped over a speed hump. He injured his face and back and crushed his helmet in the crash.
Cavendish, who has two career stage wins at Qatar, will decide on Monday whether he will continue the race.