Tom Boonen, Greg Van Avermaet, Sep Vanmarcke and Philippe Gilbert are all fighting it out to lead Belgium at the UCI Road World Championships
When is strength not a strength? Etixx-Quick Step rider Tom Boonen believes Belgium’s strength in depth may be the country’s weakness at the UCI World Championships as the team continues to decide who will go for the win.
Boonen, world champion ten years ago in 2005, is one of four riders with a strong claim to be the protected man in Richmond at the end of September alongside Sep Vanmarcke, Greg Van Avermaet and Philippe Gilbert.
But the 34-year-old says the national team bosses will have to settle on one man to go for the title in Virginia, although he insists there’s not rush to decide who.
“Four leaders is too much,” Boonen is quoted as saying on Sporza. “In a good scenario we would start with a plan A and a plan B. That is, with one leader in plan A and a possible second leader in plan B.”
“But Plan A does not exist at this time. That’s not an issue. We’re not on the spot and will see what happens this week with the riders.”
Secrets of the Toolbox – BMC
All four riders have a strong case for seeing themselves named as the leader based on recent results, with Boonen claiming two podium finishes at this weekend’s GP de Fourmies and Brussels Cycle Classic.
Van Avermaet finished fifth at the Vattenfall Cyclassics and had a strong showing at the Eneco Tour, while Vanmarcke finished fourth overall at the Tour du Poitou Charentes.
Gilbert will be hoping for some good finishes at the upcoming GPs de Montreal and Quebec to stake his claim, but Vanmarcke feels that Gilbert’s BMC teammate Van Avermaet should be given the nod.
“When we ask for a ride leader, Greg Van Avermaet is the deserving man. He is the greatest security,” he told Sporza.