Tom Boonen ready for anything in Saturday’s Milano-Sanremo
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tom Boonen ready for anything in Saturday’s Milano-Sanremo

by Ben Atkins at 6:06 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Milan-Sanremo
Former world champion hopes that Specialized S-Works+McLaren Venge can carry the winner for a second straight year

tom boonenTom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is approaching Saturday’s Milano-Sanremo in his best form for a number of years. The former World and Belgian champion has finished on the podium of la Primavera twice - 3rd in 2007, and 2nd in 2010 - but has yet to stand on the top step. After two seasons blighted by injuries, Boonen is looking to take his first Monument since the 2009 Paris-Roubaix.

With Omega Pharma-Quick Step switching bikes over the winter - from the Merckx that the team rode in 2010 and 2011, back to Specialized, which it rode between 2007 and 2009. The change means that the big Belgian sprinter will be using he S-Works+McLaren version of the aerodynamic Venge frame, which was developed in a partnership between the US bike company, and the British sports car manufacturer and Formula 1 team.

The S-Works+McLaren Venge was ridden to victory in its first ever outing, as Australian Matt Goss took last year’s Sanremo, which is something Boonen would like to repeat on Saturday.

“Specialized Venge McLaren is the fastest I've ridden, that's the main thing," said Boonen at a pre-race press conference at McLaren’s Italian Milan showroom, which was attended by MotoGP rider Ben Spies, cyclist Fabrizio Macchi and Formula 1 driver Jarno Trulli. "It saves you a lot of energy; it saves you about 25 watts which is pretty huge, especially on long stages like Milano-Sanremo. Seven hours on the bike, if you save as much energy as possible it will give you extra speed on the finish.

“The character of the bike is it's very strong on the bottom bracket,” he added. “It's a perfect bike for me. I like it.”

tom boonenWhile Boonen is among the fastest sprinters in the peloton, most of his biggest victories - including his three victories in Paris-Roubaix, and two in the Ronde van Vlaandere - have come from a solo breakaway, or as part of a small group. He will be one of the few fastmen on the Milan start line on Saturday morning that will not worry about a break getting away, so long as he is part of it.

“My ideal scenario is crossing the finish line first,” he said about. “The way I'd like to do it is not really important. I've been there only a few times. Milano-Sanremo is always a nervous race which ends up in a field sprint every time; but the ideal scenario is when you win.

“Everything can go right and everything can go wrong,” he continued. “It's a race where you really need to be anxious about the details all day long; the details make the difference in the end. I hope I have the experience now to do a good result. I hope now I will have the luck a little bit on my side, then I won't be very far from victory.”

In his nine editions of the race to date Boonen has rarely failed to be in the front group at the finish, although he has not always been in a position to sprint for the victory. Whatever happens however, and whatever the weather, with the condition he has shown so far this season - with a stage victory in the Tour de San Luis, two stages and his fourth overall title at the Tour of Qatar, and a hard fought stage of Paris-Nice - the Belgian feels ready for the race.

“The last two Milano-Samremos have been very hard races,” he said. “They've been sprints but with a really elite group. Maybe this year the weather will be better, but I think maybe it can also be bad weather in San Remo. I saw a few forecasts say that maybe we'll have some rain at the end. At the end it's a hard race, even if you go to the line with 70 guys it will still be one of the strongest guys that will win.”

“I was feeling very good at Paris-Nice,” he explained. “Everything is on schedule, but to say an exact percentage of how good I am is almost impossible. But after Paris-Nice the recovery really helps you. It's not the racing, it's the recovery.

“I had a good week now and I hope to have a good result Saturday, and then it's off to Belgium for the cobbled Classics.”


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