Riding 195km from Condé-sur-Vesgre to Vendôme the riders faced snow and cold rain for large parts of the day, and as such Boonen believes there were ground for the UCI’s Extreme Weather Protocol to be enacted.
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The stage also included two sectors of gravel road, which was great from a spectator’s point of view but ensured the riders finished looking more like they’d been racing cyclocross.
The Extreme Weather Protocol sets provision for race organisers and teams to request changes to a race route, or shorten the stage where necessary.
“We did 200 kilometres in really bad weather. I know it’s hard to find solutions here, but nothing has happened yet again.
“The problem is that there is nothing to do once you get started. You can stop and sit on the side of the road, but what does it help?” Boonen added.
Despite his protestations, Boonen was able to finish the stage in sixth place. This top ten hints at a level of form that he’ll need if he is to conquer the Classics this spring.
It has been speculated that this will be the four-time Paris-Roubaix winner’s last season, but he has stated that this will be his decision alone and that no date has yet been set.
For now he is just trying to stay safe in the bunch and get the riding in that he’ll need if he is to win any big races this year.
“For me it was very important to finish safely and gain kilometres before the Classics. Now I’ll try to recover after this hard stage and continue to improve in the following days,” he concluded.