Tom Boonen (Quick.Step-Davitamon) got his first win of the season in the first stage of the Tour of Qatar on Monday.

Boonen was beaten by South Africa’s Robert Hunter in a sprint finish in a single day event around the GP Circuit of Doha on Saturday, but on Monday it was Boonen’s turn to get the better of Hunter.

He won the bunch sprint at the end of the 143km stage ahead of Mario Cipollini (Liquigas-Bianchi) in second and Hunter (Phonak) in third to take the first golden leader’s jersey .

Hunter told that he felt an error in judgement cost him the stage win. "Coming into the finish my legs were feeling really great and I thought this was going to be easy. I was on Cipollini’s wheel and the finish was coming quickly.

“I waited a bit too long to start my sprint and next thing Tom was on my left hand side going past Cipo who started his sprint moving to the right. The gap opened ahead of me but it was a case of a little to late. My legs are feeling good and my form is there, so I look forward to the remaining sprint duels ahead".

Boonen echoed Hunter’s comments by saying "this was one of my best ever finishing sprints. I made up a lot of ground in the final straight and jumped from 500m out. I am extremely happy with my form and winning straight away after the problems I had this winter certainly boosts my morale."