Steegmans says he’s never seen Boonen climb so well
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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Steegmans says he’s never seen Boonen climb so well

by Conal Andrews at 7:01 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Milan-Sanremo

Had he not fallen and broken his collarbone in Paris-Nice, Gert Steegmans would be listed amongst the contenders for today’s Paris-Nice. Instead, he will watch the race as an outsider, and tips fellow Belgian Tom Boonen as a possible winner.

“I’ve been training with him a few times and I have never seen him go uphill so easily,” he said in a radio interview with Studio Brussel. “Normally he is always tired in Sanremo, but this year he will be refreshed when the sprint starts.”

Boonen’s best placing in the race was third in 2007, coming in behind Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Allan Davis (Discovery Channel). Last year he was in the group of riders sprinting for the win but only finished 15th.

As has been seen many times in the race, the longest of the Classics at 296 kilometres, pure speed is not enough to win. Instead, stamina and the amount of energy left after competing over the distance is also a major factor.

Boonen appears to have got his career back on track after alcohol and cocaine addictions. He has taken four wins so far this season, namely two stages of the Tour of Qatar, one in the Tour of Oman, and one in the recent Tirreno-Adriatico.

He has also been tipped as a major favourite by the 2002 victor, Mario Cipollini.

Steegmans focussed on comeback

His former Quick Step team-mate Steegmans has proven himself quicker than Boonen on occasion, such as when he beat him into Gent in the 2007 Tour de France. He was the leadout man for the former world champion but went so quickly that Boonen was unable to pass.

RadioShack had hoped that he would spearhead the team today but the Paris-Nice fall meant that it was not to be. Halfway through the opening prologue, he crashed spectacularly on a descent when a gust of wind blew him off his bike. He was treated for a broken collarbone at the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Waregem and told by doctors that he would be out of competition for six to eight weeks.

He has been able to train on the rollers, and now he is focussing on getting back on the road and into the races.

"My shoulder is still sore, but I feel good,” he said. “This week I have felt it because I did too much last week. I hope to be able to get back to cycling [on the road] on Monday. Then it will quickly become clear when I can make my comeback. "

"I would like to have done Paris-Roubaix, but that will be difficult. The break is more complex than we first thought. I need more time to heal."

The Belgian crashed spectacularly on a downhill section just 4 kilometers into the 8 kilometer course when a strong gust of wind threw the rider head over heels at 70 kilometers per hour. According to Het Nieuwsblad, doctors at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Waregem told Steegmans he would be out of competition for six to eight weeks.


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