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Tour of Qatar Alert!

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With the ToQ starting Sunday, I feel an obligation to say something... but I won't try to do any sort of preview. No, wait, here goes: the Tour of Qatar is a five-day ride of completely boring proportions across flat, windy desert, leading to the mandatory sprint contests among the race's highly-paid superstars... one of whom will likely win each day's festivities. Oh, and a prologue. There.

CyclingNews has a section set up. Also, it's an ASO race, so naturally there's an official site containing all the information you could possibly want, starting and ending with a reminder that Tom Boonen will be there.

What IS worth knowing is the startlist. Check it out at CyclingFever; it's a little better developed than last time I went looking for it. Coupla guys to watch, besides Tommeke: Francesco Chicchi should be the designated closer for Liquigas. Danilo Napolitano will rep for Lampre. Boonen may well let Wouter Weylandt try for the line. Johan Van Summeren could well earn Most Valuable Rider status in the Qatari crosswinds. Greg Van Avermaet will presumably try for some wins, though captain Leif Hoste will be around. As will Nick Nuyens. Alberto Loddo, who went on a tear in Malaysia a year ago, will presumably rep for Tinkoff. And Magnus Backstedt and David Millar will captain Slipstream in its 2008 debut... with one or both making a play for the prologue.

Live coverage on Cycling.TV... which means you can get highlights too. Recommended!