Boonen to race tour of Qatar and Oman. Can he win the Desert Double?

Boonen psyched for Tour of Qatar.

Tornado Tom returns to the deserts of Qatar. Yes, the sheik of Quick Step will again race in February’s Tour of Qatar as he has done every year since 2004. The man likes the cobbles, he likes the camels. After all, he’s won the Big Q three times.

The emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani is evidently a huge Boonen fan. And when your estimated net worth is 2.4 billion, you get what ever you want.

An avid sportsman, Hamad has brought in the 15th Asian Games, World Youth soccer championships and Qatar open Tennis Championship and of course his sandy little stage race.

Quick Step sport director Wilfried Peeters told Het Laatste Nieuws. “This is the best preparation for Tom for the Belgian opening weekend.”

Peeters went on to say that “Tom is a familiar face in Qatar.” Google famous people in Qatar and you won’t find much. Basically, it’s Boonen and Sheik Hamad and maybe organizer Eddy Merckx.

You might consider Qatar as Belgium South and if Boonen slips on a white robe he has the key to the city of Doha. Winners of the Qatar race are rewarded with 10,000 barrels of crude oil and a tanker to take it back home.

After Boonen rides the Big Q — which runs from February 6th to the 11th, he will tackle the Desert Double and go for overall victory in the Tour of Oman later in the month. This is sort of like winning Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in a crazy sort of way.

Is Tom Boonen up for the challenge of the Desert Double? No one knows the answer — except perhaps revered Muslim cyclist journalist Abdul Al Salaam.

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