Mark Cavendish (Columbia Highroad) of Great Britain and Tom Boonen (Quick Step) of Belgium, will renew their rivalry for world’s top sprinting honors beginning Sunday in the Tour of Qatar.

Cavendish was one of the main stories of the 2008 cycling season. He had18 victories and arguably arrived as the world’s best sprinter.

Boonen, who has twice won the Tour Qatar, is the 2005 world road titlist. He has 14 Tour of Qatar stage wins while racing in five editions of the race, dating to its inception in 2002.

The six-day, 685-kilometer race, Feb. 1-6, will feature 17 teams of eight riders, including American ProTour teams Garmin-Slipstream and Columbia Highroad and U.S. Pro Continental team BMC.

The inaugural women’s Tour of Qatar will run February 8-10. A field of 90 women from 14 countries and 15 teams is scheduled to compete, including Columbia Highroad.

Former men’s overall Tour of Qatar winners:

2008 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step

2007 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Quick.Step-Innergetic

2006 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step Innergetic

2005 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team CSC

2004 Robert Hunter (RSA) Rabobank

2003 Alberto Loddo (Ita) Lampre

2002 Thorsten Wilhelms (Ger) Team Coast

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