Team Quick Step sent a very strong team to Qatar, obviously intent to have Tom Boonen leave wearing the winner’s Gold Jersey. They have made their intentions known at every step so far.
David Millar obviously wanted to make a statement with his new team Slipstream/Chipotle. He practically dragged his following four riders across the finish line of the Qatar Prolog with the then-fastest finishing time, five seconds ahead of Skil-Shimano and six seconds faster than the experienced Liquigas Squad. But Boonen was not to be outdone. Quick Step probably found partial seconds in their skilled maneuvering of the several round-abouts on the course and then Boonen muscled his team to the finish to take first place two seconds faster than Slipstream. Matteo Tosatto crossed the line first, but only after Boonen made a long pull up front down the stretch.
Quick Step evidently came to Qatar determined to control every aspect of this race. They have stayed at or near the front in each of the first two stages setting a tempo that has stretched the Pelaton for at least the last 10km, if not longer. Several other teams have tried to establish their trains at the finish, but they either have attacked too early or too late and Boonen has captured the bonus seconds by winning each of the first two sprints.
The hi lites available at cycling.tv definiitely are worth watching because the pressure starts at the beginning of each race day and never relents. It will be interesting to see whether Quick Step can maintain the pace necessary to win every stage because it looks like no one will be able to catch Boonen at this point.