Boonen showing good form as buildup to Milan-San Remo continues
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Friday, March 12, 2010

Boonen showing good form as buildup to Milan-San Remo continues

by Conal Andrews at 8:58 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

Former world champion Tom Boonen snagged his first-ever win in Italy yesterday when he triumphed on stage two of the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race, and looks poised to take over the race lead today.

The Belgian Quick Step rider started today’s leg level on time with Linus Gerdemann (Milram), and four seconds ahead of the trio of Pablo Lastras (Caisse d’Epargne), Paul Martens (Rabobank) and Alan Perez (Euskaltel Euskadi).

With the 159 kilometre stage from San Miniato to Monsummano Terme being almost completely flat, a bunch gallop is the most likely outcome. Providing Boonen can finish strongly, he will be in pole position to take over the leader’s jersey in the race.

Yesterday’s triumph was his fourth win of the year, and shows that he is back to form after a disappointing summer. A positive test for cocaine led to his near-exclusion from the Tour de France, and a promise that he would undergo therapy for addictions.

Boonen opened his 2010 account with two stage wins plus third overall in the Tour of Qatar, then triumphed on stage five of the Tour of Oman.

Each win was in a bunch gallop, showing that his top stage placing of sixteenth in last year’s Tour de France was but a temporary lapse in his sprinting powers. At one point last season Boonen was talking about giving up on sprinting and focussing instead on time trials, but it appears that he is now back to full strength.

Yesterday’s success was, surprisingly, his first-ever win on Italian soil. He’s hoping that bodes well for Milan-Sanremo, which takes place in eight day’s time.

“I’m extremely satisfied,” he said after the stage. “Throughout my career I’ve won at all latitudes, a little all over the world, but I had never won in Italy. I like Italy a lot and I also like Italian races; with this success I’ve made up for a little something that was missing on my resume, and I’m really happy. It’s an important victory that gives me and all the team some hope and faith.”

There was a small cloud over the sun yesterday when he was fined 100 euros for improper behaviour; he had a toilet break while moving, but timed it wrong and did it in front of spectators. However that’s extremely unlikely to have detracted from his satisfaction.

His plan now is to continue to build form as the first big Classic of the season approaches. “The next few days here at the Tirreno-Adriatico will be very important to further fine-tune our condition as we look forward to the great events of the season, the first of which will surely be the Milano-Sanremo,” he said. “I was motivated for the Classics before I even arrived in Italy and now, after this success, I’m even more so.”

Boonen’s best career result in La Classicissima was third in 2007.


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