(CNN) -- Sprint king Mark Cavendish laid down a marker for the 2009 season with a blistering burst to win the fourth stage of the Tour of Qatar on Wednesday.
Cavendish (left) shares a moment with fellow Briton Roger Hammond before the start of the stage.
Cavendish, the most feared finisher in the peloton last year with four stage wins in the Tour de France, made no mistake as he charged clear of a small group of riders at fhe finish of the 141 kilometer stage from Doha to Madinat Al Shamal.
The Briton had missed out on the previous two days as his Columbia-High Road teammates could not bring him to the front with the bunch splitting in ferocious desert crosswinds.
But Cavendish, again lacking team support, hung on desperately as the Cervelo squad of second-placed overall Roger Hammond applied the pressure.
They were trying to shrug off race leader and stage three winner Tom Boonen, who is also a bunch sprint specialist.
But the former world champion from Belgium could do little to stop Cavendish at the finish.
The Columbia rider veered to the right of the road, nearly clipping the kerb, before unleashing his finish which Boonen could not match, sitting up as he took third behind Germany's Heinrich Haussler.
Consolation for Quick Step's Boonen was his four second time bonus which takes him 10 seconds clear of Hammond in the overall standings
The fifth and penultimate stage of the season-opening race for many of the world's top riders sees the riders take in the 147.5 kilometers from Camel Race track to the Qatar Foundation.