- Posted by Nigel Wynn
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Twenty-two year old Briton Alex Dowsett makes his debut for Team Sky at the Tour of Qatar on Sunday, and is quietly hoping to make a strong impression in his opening race's prologue time trial.
"I'll be giving everything I have, and I couldn't be starting in better form," time trial specialist Dowsett said on the Sky team website.
"I'm feeling stronger than I've ever done before and have really benefitted from the team's winter training camp. Whilst I was there I was did a lot of top-end training to try and pre-empt the prologue a bit."
Dowsett switched to the British-based Team Sky for the 2011 season from the Trek-Livestrong development squad. Last year he claimed silver at the Commonwealth Games time trial in Delhi behind David Millar and won the under-23 European time trial championship.
Although this will be Dowsett's debut for Sky at Qatar, he's familiar with the race having ridden it for Trek-Livestrong in 2010. The 2.5km opening prologue is run on a pan-flat circuit of the Cultural Village and is as suited to power sprinters as it is for time triallists.
Last year, Sky won the opening team time trial putting Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen into the leader's jersey.
"I'm pretty nervous because it's going to be a huge step up for me and completely different this time around. Last year I was there purely for experience and trying not to get in the way, but now I am with a Worldtour team who won a stage last year and also held the leader's jersey."
After the prologue, Dowsett will assume a support role for British Sky team-mates Russell Downing and Jeremy Hunt during the race's five windswept, flat road stages.
The six-day Tour of Qatar starts on Sunday February 6 and finishes on Friday February 11. The 2010 edition of the race was won by Wouter Mol (Vacansoleil).
Team Sky at Tour of Qatar: Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Russell Downing, Lars-Petter Nordhaug, Juan Antonio Flecha, Ian Stannard, Bradley Wiggins, Jeremy Hunt, Alex Dowsett.
Alex Dowsett talks to Cycling Weekly about his 2011 hopes in this week's issue of the magazine (February 3), out now
Tour of Qatar 2011: Stages
Sunday Feb 6: Prologue, Cultural Village to Cultural Village, 2.5km
Monday Feb 7: Stage 1, Dukhan to Al Khor Corniche, 145.5km
Tuesday Feb 8: Stage 2, Camel Race Track to Doha Golf Club, 135.5km
Wednesday Feb 9: Stage 3, Al Wakra to Mesaieed, 150.5km
Thursday Feb 10: Stage 4, West Bay Lagoon to Al Kharaitiyat, 153.5km
Friday Feb 11: Stage 5, Sealine Beach Resort to Doha Corniche, 126.5km