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Boonen's Opening Statement

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Tom the Bomb is through two race days and still hasn't lost, following his win in Stage 2 of the Tour of Qatar today. Says he's feeling OK but has a long way to go. Winter race, blady blah, but he's opened his 2008 account and it's impossible not to try to draw something from it.

Boonen did a nice Petacchi-style closeout on Greg Van Avermaet and Danilo Napolitano, but probably more striking was the wood that Quick Step put to the field. The race averaged 55kph (34mph) in strong crosswinds, with stretches over 70kph as four of Boonen's teammates smashed the GC hopes of nearly the entire field. Only 9 riders are within thirty seconds of overall leader Boonen, and three are teammates. Considering the climbing in Qatar is over before it starts, this is nearly game over.

But as for tracing any sort of pattern, that's about where the intrigue ends. The first couple stages of Qatar is pretty much Tom Boonen's personal property, whether he's gearing up for the top spot or last year's so-called "down campaign." And he's not talking in terms of "revenge" or "making amends" after a year in which he failed to win any of his beloved monuments, but did pull of his first Maillot Vert in July. Is he focusing on returning to the pedestal of the cobbles, or will Boonen be the next master of the dogged persistence that defines the Green Jersey? No clue yet.