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Sky High but Cervélo Penalised in Tour of Qatar Opener

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Edvard Boasson Hagen will wear the leader’s jersey on today’s second stage after Team Sky won the opening team time trial in its first Tour of Qatar.

‘Preparation, preparation, preparation,’ was the familiar mantra from the Team Sky high-ups: “Every little detail was covered – from the warming up, examining the wind conditions, scouting the course and looking how we would handle different corners and roundabouts – basically all the different technical parts which make a difference,” said Sports Director Scott Sunderland. Those less enthralled by ‘marginal gains’ were more excited by watching Bradley Wiggins take some huge pulls at the front as the eight-man phalanx gelled to impressive effect. They covered the 8.2km circular course around West Bay Lagoon in 9’41”, an average speed of 50.809km/h.

Team Sky benefited from a tailwind towards the end, although the unpredictable –yet predictably strong – wind conditions in reality did nobody any favors. Least of all Cervélo, who were penalized a minute for an unauthorized shove among team-mates. Heinrich Haussler claimed he pushed Gabriel Rasch to prevent them crashing during a big gust of wind. However, the decision to ride in a two-man formation now looks a mistake, as the judges disagreed with Haussler’s assessment and consequently the team stands little chance of making an impact in the race.

Garmin Transitions recorded the same time as Cervélo, eight seconds behind Sky, but will take cold comfort in their second place  – the team won last year’s opener and its then leader, Wiggo, took the gold jersey. What a difference a year makes.

Saxo Bank, in third, go into today’s stage 13 seconds behind the leaders. They’re followed by HTC Columbia (-18 seconds) and Quick Step (-20 seconds).

Check back for a report on Monday’s second stage, or tune in to Eurosport or Versus for coverage in Europe or the US.

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