Cycling: Subdued Boonen wins Tour of Qatar

9th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Belgian Tom Boonen won the Tour of Qatar on Friday following Briton Mark Cavendish's success in the sixth and final stage.

DOHA - This was Quick Step rider Boonen's third win in the desert race after successes in 2005 and 2008.

But the Belgian star cut a subdued figure after his victory which came 24 hours after his 21-year-old compatriot Frederick Nolf was found dead in his hotel bed.

"I didn't have the heart to race today," said Boonen.

"Fred was with us throughout the day. It was a different kind of day, from breakfast this morning the atmosphere has been very heavy."

Boonen was speaking as the body of Nolf was being repatriated to Belgium for an autopsy.

Nolf was found dead by his Topsport teammate Kristof Goddaert in their 14th floor shared room at the Ritz-Carlton before Thursday's fifth stage.

Throughout Friday's final day Boonen was content to sit on his 10sec lead in the overall standings, electing not to join battle in a sprint launched by Italian Danilo Napolitano 1500m from the finish.

Sprint specialist Cavendish ultimately prevailed by two bike lengths from Germany's Robert Forster.

Cavendish commented: "Two (stage) wins, my performance is mainly good. This Tour of Qatar has proved an enriching experience and important for my confidence because I've beaten top class sprinters here."

Cavendish's next stop is the Tour of California where he will clash again with Boonen who insisted that the British rider was not unbeatable in a sprint "as long as you don't make a single mistake".


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