Tom Boonen: “Maybe in the shower it will start to sink in”
  February 08, 2023 Login  

Current Articles    |   Archives    |   RSS Feeds    |   Search

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tom Boonen: “Maybe in the shower it will start to sink in”

by Ben Atkins at 3:17 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders
Belgian joins the greats with third Ronde van Vlaanderen victory; new course is not harder, just different

Tom BoonenTom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) joined the greats of Flemish cycling with his third victory in the Ronde van Vlaanderen today. In a season of records - where he has already become the outright highest winner in the E3 Prijs, with five, and joined the list of three-time Gent-Wevelgem winners - the 31-year-old also joined compatriot and former mentor Johan Museeuw as the only riders in history to have taken three victories in both the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix.

It could have all been so different however, as Omega Pharma-Quick Step made the big mistake of allowing the early break to go without putting a rider in it.

“The start was not good, eh?” Boonen told his post-race press conference. “I think after 20-Ks we already had to start working, because we had nobody in the break; the 15-guy break. Which was about the worst thing that we could do.”

In the closing stages however, it all came right for Boonen, who got himself into the race-winning move with Alessandro Ballan (BMC Racing) and Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia); with the Belgian former World champion’s speed - and the two Italians unable to drop him in the flat run in to the finish - the result was never really in doubt.

“It's always difficult in a race like this, especially in a headwind,” Boonen explained. “I made a good sprint. I think Pippo was strong. Maybe on the Kwaremont he was stronger than me. But in the sprint he didn't have a chance.

Neither Italian rider wanted to arrive at the finish with a sprinter like Boonen, but after a few attempts from Ballan to get away, it was obvious that there was to be no escape from the attentive Belgian.

“Of course I didn't sit down and let them go,” he said, “the one real thing I had to do was jump on a wheel when Ballan went. I had to chase, and waited for Pippo to push it, but he didn't really push it.”

For a rider that possesses a sprint like Boonen’s, which has seen him take bunch sprints in races like the Tour de France as well as his numerous Classics victories, so long as he can hold on to riders that have the edge on him in climbing, he will be almost assured of victory.

“For me it's not so important to show up on climbs and try to drop everyone and maybe lose the race,” he explained. “I have to wait for my moment and count on my sprint.”

Arguably, one of the most decisive moments of the race came when Swiss champion - and 2010 race winner - Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) came down in the feedzone, fracturing his collarbone. The race - and indeed the entire Classics season - has been billed as a battle between the two riders and, while this contest had yet to materialise in any of the Semi-Classics to date, it was expected to today.

Boonen denied that the incident really changed the way Omega Pharma-Quick Step was riding the race however, saying that he wasn’t immediately aware of his Swiss rival’s fate.

“He crashed and I think maybe 10 minutes later we heard the news he wasn't in the race anymore,” said Boonen. “We didn't really change anything. For us I feel really bad for him, but we just raced and didn't worry about the other guys. I am sad for him, and wish him a fast recovery and I am sure he will come back stronger then ever for the Olympics and for the other big goals he has.”

Strength in numbers when it counts

One of the decisive factors for Boonen was that he had two teammates in the leading group when the decisive phase of the race began. French champion Sylvain Chavanel had also been there in the 2011 race - going on to finish second behind Nick Nuyens - but Terpstra had been injured in a freak accident in the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde in the week before.

Tom BoonenThe presence of the former Dutch champion was a vital one for the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team as the final phase of the race began.

“Every extra guy we have in the final kilometres is important,” said Boonen. “It was nice to see that Chava and Niki were there. We controlled the break a little bit, but everything came back just before the Kwaremont, then Jerome went, then we went after him.”

The fact that Boonen has now joined the list of riders to have taken three Ronde van Vlaanderen, adding his name to those of Achiel Buysse, Fiorenzo Magni, Eric Leman and Johan Museeuw, is not something that has really hit home for the 31-year-old. As time goes by however, he expects to fully realise his achievement.

"Right now I am happy," he said. "I've been extremely busy [since the finish], but maybe in the shower I will have five minutes to breathe a little bit, and then it will come.

As a two-time winner Boonen is a good rider to judge the merits of the new - often controversial - course. Despite the three-times around the climbs of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg, he denied that it was necessarily harder than the former Muur-Kapelmuur/Bosberg run in to Meerbeke.

"It's different," he said. "The last few days everybody was talking about how it's much harder, I always said it's not much more difficult. It's just different.

“There are more hills in the final kilometres,” he explained. “It's a different race and I am happy I won it for the first edition of the new course. I think the next few races, some will race harder in the final, but you saw it. Everyone was tired on the Kwaremont. The first time they pushed it but not hard, the second time riders were getting dropped.”

Boonen now has the chance - especially in the absence of Cancellara - to take the second Flanders-Roubaix double of his career in the Hell of the North next Sunday. Should he achieve this - and equal Roger De Vlaeminck’s outright record of four victories, he will surely take his place amongst the Gods.


Subscribe via RSS or daily email

  Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy  Copyright 2008-2013 by VeloNation LLC