DUKHAN BEACH, Qatar — Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won the first stage of the Tour of Qatar on Sunday.
The 135.5km stage took the peloton from Al Wakra to Dukhan Beach.
Terpstra was part of a five-man breakaway that included Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) and Michael Schär (BMC Racing), who finished second and third, respectively.
The five escaped 22km from the finish as a strong northerly wind shattered the field.
“The head wind in the finale was really hard,” said Terpstra, who credited teammate Guillaume Van Keirsbulck for working on his behalf and leading him out in the sprint.
Schär said he didn’t have the snap to match Terpstra and Roelandts.
“Those guys were definitely better sprinters than I am,” he said. “So in the last 30 kilometers, I didn’t do the longest pulls so I could maybe have something left against them.
“In the last kilometer, I was thinking of going, but then Van Keirsbulck surprised us from the back. So then we just had a normal sprint. Third was not so bad for me.”
Quick Step’s Tom Boonen proved best of the rest as the bunch sprinted for the remaining places.
Boonen, who has won the Tour of Qatar four times, said he found his performance on the tough stage reassuring after a 2013 season largely lost to illness, adding, “I feel very fit again.”
Terpstra will wear the leader’s yellow jersey in Monday’s second stage, a 60.5km leg from Camel Race Track to Al Khor Corniche.