Boonen won the sprint while Cavendish trailed in 26th
Belgian Tom Boonen made the most of rival Mark Cavendish's misfortune to win stage three of the Tour of Qatar.
While Boonen won a bunch sprint, Cavendish came in 26th after suffering a puncture with 2km to go.
Boonen took the overall race lead from another Briton, Roger Hammond, whose Cervelo team were unable to keep him in the golden jersey on the 140km stage.
Cavendish was awarded the same time as Boonen, though, because his puncture occurred during the last 3km.
Boonen was told during the stage that a Belgian court had dropped charges against him for alleged cocaine use.
The charges saw the former world champion excluded from last Year's Tour de France.
He said: "The season can now begin, and it's begun well already."
Stage 3 results:
1. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step, 2hrs 34mins 53secs
2. Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Katusha, at same time
3. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Silence-Lotto, at same time
4. Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo, at same time
5. Angelo Furlan (Ita) Lampre, at same time
1. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step, at 6hrs 14mins 16secs
2. Roger Hammond (GB) Cervelo, at 6secs
3. Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo, at 14secs
4. Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervelo, at 18secs
5. Steven De Jongh (Bel) Quick Step, at same time
8. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo, at 21secs
14. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia, at 2min 27secs
21. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo, at 2min 56secs
82. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin, at 19min 03secs
112. Ben Swift (GB) Katusha, at 28min 57secs