Boonen sidesteps favourite tag for new World Ports Classic
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Boonen sidesteps favourite tag for new World Ports Classic

by VeloNation Press at 6:06 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Belgian keen to start new ASO event

Tom BoonenContinuing his buildup towards the world road race championships, Tom Boonen has said he is looking forward to lining out in the new World Ports Classic race and to testing his condition. The Belgian Classics expert and sprinter believes he could perform well, but also doesn’t want the pressure of being closely watched.

“I will be one of the key players but I’m not a favourite for the World Ports Classic,” he said. “There will also be other important riders at the start of the race, people who were also in shape this summer, and the race takes a time when riders are preparing for the World Championships. So one will have to be careful.”

Boonen has had a superb season, particularly early on. He took stages in the Tour de San Luis, Paris-Nice and Tour of Qatar, as well as overall victory in the latter. However it was his single-day performance which was the most impressive; he won the E3 Harelbeke, Gent–Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, and later scooped the Belgian road race title.

He deliberately missed the Tour de France to focus on the Olympic Games. While that didn’t work out in terms of a medal, the break should give him reserves which will benefit him in the worlds and other late races.

“It is hard to say if this race will become one of my specialities like Tour of Qatar or Paris-Roubaix,” he said of the new event, run by Tour de France organisers ASO. “We need to see how the race will evolve in the future. Like in the Tour of Qatar, riders will have to face the wind.

“We know the first stage quite well since it goes through Middleburg, like on the Giro 2010 or the Eneco Tour. It is likely that some riders try to escape while on the dikes, as in the first stage of the Tour de France 2010. However, the second stage seems more suited to a massive sprint. It will all depend on the strategies of the teams.”

Other fast riders to watch will be Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol), Marcel Kittel (Argos Shimano) and Rabobank’s Theo Bos.

The race begins on Friday in Rotterdam and covers 201 kilometres to Antwerp. The following day sees the riders head back to Rotterdam via a shorter 161.5 kilometre route.

In a time when a lot of attention is paid to big overseas events, Boonen recognises that the creation of new races in Europe is very important for the sport’s heartland areas.

“Cycling is more and more international. But it’s also important not to forget about the “Old Europe” and to preserve our sport, a true tradition in Belgium and The Netherlands,” he said. “For riders like us, it is always wonderful to race before a crowd that deeply loves cycling. I’m curious to find out about the World Ports Classic. I’m looking forward to discovering it.”

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