Tom Boonen faces his biggest appointment of the year this weekend after a tough two weeks at home. On Sunday, he will attempt to win a record fourth Flanders title, but this one would take more significance emotionally after his partner’s recent miscarriage.
“Everyone knows the story from two weeks ago,” Boonen said in a press conference today. “Sunday in Ghent-Wevelgem, I was feeling better and had the right mental feeling. I was hungry, I wanted to race and to win, that was a good sign. I had a good feeling on Wednesday in training, too.”
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“If am taking the start, I’m always capable of winning. I’m not taking the start as a big favourite, which could be a good thing,” Boonen explained. “Due to circumstances, it’s been harder on me in the last few weeks. [But] if I don’t win, it won’t be my fault. It’ll be a good battle, though, I know the race pretty well and I have a few cards to play.”
A crash at E3 Harelbeke two days before Ghent-Wevelgem didn’t stop him from finishing either race, although he did stretch a ligament in his right thumb. “As long as I don’t touch it, it doesn’t hurt,” he said. “I try not to touch it! Really, though, it’s not giving me problems anymore.”
At today’s Omega Pharma press conference the Belgian press were more interested in Boonen’s mental state than his thumb. Outside of a surprise win, Boonen in Belgium’s only realistic chance of a win in de Ronde and they wanted to know if he was up for it.
His form had been good since the start of the year, with two stage wins in Qatar and a victory at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in March. He then missed Milan-San Remo due to the miscarriage but was racing again three days later at Dwars door Vlaanderen.
“He will not put [the miscarriage] behind him,” General Manager Patrick Lefevere told Cycling Weekly on Monday. “[But] what can he do? Stay at home? That’s not an option.”