Tom Boonen back in shape for Tour of Flanders
Despite a crash and banged knee, Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) is improving towards the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. He worked for Mark Cavendish yesterday in Three Days of De Panne and accumulated needed race kilometres.
"He still has a little pain in his knee, but raced today and went really very deep," General Manager Patrick Lefevere told a group of journalists including Cycling Weekly. "If he can add an extra 260 kilometres from De Panne, then we can start to think how to go about beating The Beast, Sagan on Sunday."
Lefevere spoke after the first led of De Panne yesterday in Zottegem. Boonen arrived to the bus dirty and tired, but, importantly for Flanders, smiling.
The two spoke on the bus before Lefevere met with the press. The conversation would have centred on Boonen's work for Cavendish and "the beast," yesterday's stage and Ghent-Wevelgem winner, Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
Despite Boonen's three wins, Sagan is the favourite for Sunday's race through Flanders. Bookmakers give him 3:1 odds. Boonen is at 14:1.
Boonen fell behind over the winter with two visits to the hospital: once for an intestinal problem and once for an elbow infection. It forced him to miss a team camp and his usual trip to the Tour of Qatar. He did not get rolling until the Tour of Oman on February 11.
He made two steps forward, but took another one back on Sunday in E3 Harelbeke. With 65 kilometres to race, he tried to avoid a curb and fell on his right side and banged his knee.
The setbacks mean that Belgium's home team might rely on Sylvain Chavanel to lead.
"In the past it was a little easier. It was just Tom," Lefevere explained.
"With the health difficulties that Tom had since December, it's not so sure [what he can do in Flanders]. He's still there. If you see when he was pulling in the final, the whole bunch was [strung-out for] about one kilometre. That's Tom Boonen, and that means that he had good legs, but on Sunday we may play different cards with Niki Terpstra, Chavanel and Boonen."
Off in the distance the announcer calls Sagan on the podium to accept flowers and kisses from the podium girls. Lefevere shakes his head. Even if he has a full deck of Omega Pharma cards to play, he still has to deal with Cannondale's hand, the beast.
"We can't be frustrated by Sagan. You see if you're a real leader like Sagan, the team is strong. The team is strong because of him," Lefevere added. "We have a very strong team, too, but it's difficult to organise the race if Sagan attacks."
Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.
New Canyon Grail breaks cover at Unbound
Canyon Bicycles teased out their new Grail gravel bike at Unbound Gravel in June. The racey steed was ridden to victory in two events this weekend.
By Joe Baker • Published
Training prioritised over racing: Why Mathieu van der Poel hasn't raced since Paris-Roubaix
Dutchman sets his sights on Tour de France and then road and MTB at Glasgow World Championships
By Adam Becket • Published
Tweets of the week: Cobbles, barbecues, and what on earth is curry ketchup?
Strap in for our pre-Paris-Roubaix round-up of social media's finest
By Tom Davidson • Published
Tadej Pogačar claims Kwaremont-Paterberg Strava KOM in Tour of Flanders romp
The two-time Tour de France winner took a host of Strava trophies in Flanders on Sunday
By Tom Davidson • Published
CW Live: Tour of Flanders updates as Tadej Pogačar and Lotte Kopecky convincingly win; Mathieu van der Poel finishes second; Mads Pedersen beats Wout van Aert to fourth; SD Worx continue dominant spring; Bahrain-Victorious rider apologises for crash;
Join us for live updates from the Tour of Flanders as Tadej Pogačar and Lotte Kopecky win the men's and women's editions
By Chris Marshall-Bell • Last updated
Biniam Girmay eyes Tour of Flanders and Tour de France success in 2023
After becoming first African rider to win Gent-Wevelgem, Girmay plans to take aim at the Tour of Flanders and other monuments next year
By Tom Thewlis • Published
Tour of Flanders Espoirs cancelled indefinitely
The race's date, location and lack of young riders are all factors in the organiser's decision
By Ryan Dabbs • Published
No fans at Tour of Flanders and other Classics in 2021, according to organisers
There will be no fans at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Ghent-Wevelgem, Dwars Door Vlaanderen, Scheldeprijs or Brabantse Pijl in 2021
By Tim Bonville-Ginn • Published
How watching 25 years of Tour of Flanders footage is helping scientists study climate change
It might sound like an excuse to watch some bike racing, but scientists are using footage of the Tour of Flanders to help them study climate change.
By Henry Robertshaw • Published
Peter Sagan: 'If the other riders don't wake up, it's going to be like this'
"It's not just me that they need to beat" Peter Sagan said of his rivals after Quick-Step Floors dominated the Tour of Flanders
By Gregor Brown • Published