Doha - US racer Brent Bookwalter of the BMC team won Sunday's opening stage of the Tour of Qatar, seeing off Swiss rivals Martin Elmiger (IAM) and Gregory Rast (RadioShack) in a sprint finish in tricky, windy conditions.
The 28-year-old from Albuquerque edged home for his first professional win after a 145km ride from Katara to Dukhan Beach which saw the riders dogged by Shamal, a strong northerly wind which provided an additional challenge.
British star Mark Cavendish was sixth, riding for new team Omega-Pharma Quick Step having left Sky late last year, after finding the wind threw him out of his rhythm in the early stages, while favoured French FDJ sprinter Nacer Bouhanni saw his chances take a knock following two punctures, leaving him 15min adrift.
Monday's second stage is a 14km team time-trial along Al Rufaa boulevard west of Doha.
Tour of Qatar results after Sunday's opening stage:
1. Brent Bookwalter (USA/BMC), 145km in 3hr 28min 47sec
2. Martin Elmiger (SUI) s.t.
3. Gregory Rast (SUI) s.t.
4. Bernhard Eisel (AUT) s.t
5. Elia Viviani (ITA) s.t.
6. Mark Cavendish (GBR) s.t.
7. Matti Breschel (DEN) s.t.
8. Taylor Phinney (USA) s.t.
9. Heinrich Haussler (AUS) s.t.
10. Yauheni Hutarovich (BLR) s.t.
1. Brent Bookwalter (USA/BMC), les 145km en 3hr 28min 37sec
2. Martin Elmiger (SUI) at 4sec
3. Gregory Rast (SUI) 6
4. Bernhard Eisel (AUT) s.t.
5. Taylor Phinney (USA) s.t.
6. John Degenkolb (GER) 8
7. Alexander Kristoff (NOR) s.t
8. Elia Viviani (ITA) at 10
9. Mark Cavendish (GBR) s.t.
10. Matti Breschel (DEN) s.t.