Doha - Spanish rider Jose Joaquin Rojas won the first stage of the Tour of Qatar, a 136 kilometres ride from Dukhan to Sealine Beach on Sunday.
The 29-year-old Movistar rider -- Spanish road race champion in 2011 -- edged out Belgian veteran Tom Boonen and Arnaud Demare of France in a sprint finish.
Rojas is unlikely to be able to hold onto the jersey all the way to Friday's finish but he said he would try.
"We have to try. The important thing for now is not to relax," he said.
"We will give our all and if we manage to maintain or even improve this result with another victory, it will be welcome."
The pace picked up in the final 10km and some riders, including world timetrial champion Bradley Wiggins and sprint king Marcel Kittel, failed to keep up.
Astana pair Lars Boom and Lieuwe Westra, along with Tinkoff-Saxo's Matti Brechel, went for broke from 25km out but crosswinds in the final 14km scuppered their chances of holding on to the finish.
"It was a long day, if we didn't attack, we would have finished in the dark," said Boom.
With time bonuses given to the top finishers, Rojas leads Boonen by four seconds in the overall standings while Demare is a further two seconds adrift.
Monday's second stage is the 194.5km ride from Al Wakra to the Al Khor Corniche.
Results in the first stage of the Tour of Qatar, a 136km ride from Dukhan to Sealine Beach, on Sunday:
1. Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) Movistar 3hr 49min 50sec, 2. Tom Boonen (BEL) Etixx-Quick Step same time, 3. Arnaud Demare (FRA) FDJ s.t., 4. Peter Sagan (SVK) Tinkoff-Saxo s.t., 5. Sam Bennett (IRL) Bora-Argon 18 s.t., 6. Jasper Stuyven (BEL) Trek s.t. 7. Heinrich Haussler (AUS) IAM s.t., 8. Andrea Guardini (ITA) Astana s.t., 9. Alexander Kristoff (NOR) Katusha s.t., 10. Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) Cofidis s.t.
1. Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) Movistar 3hr 49min 50sec, 2. Tom Boonen (BEL) Etixx-Quick Step 4sec, 3. Arnaud Demare (FRA) FDJ 6, 4. Nikias Arndt (GER) Giant-Alpecin 8, 5. Niki Terpstra (NED) Etixx-Quick Step 9, 6. Roberto Ferrari (ITA) Lampre-Merida 10, 7. Peter Sagan (SVK) Tinkoff-Saxo s.t., 8. Sam Bennett (IRL) Bora-Argon 18 s.t., 9. Jasper Stuyven (BEL) Trek s.t. 10. Heinrich Haussler (AUS) IAM s.t.