Peeters: “Boonen’s double weekend is just to please the sponsors”
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Peeters: “Boonen’s double weekend is just to please the sponsors”

by Ben Atkins at 10:58 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics

tom boonenThe decision for Tom Boonen to ride both the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and Gent-Wevelgem this weekend is a bad one, and is just to please the sponsors, says Quick Step director sportif Wilfried Peeters. The weekend double means changes to the Belgian champion’s usual routine leading up to the Ronde van Vlaanderen, and the former super-domestique is concerned that it may jeopardise his chances there.

“The E3-prijs is the ideal race leading up to the Ronde, but Gent-Wevelgem has more international influence," said Peeters to Het Nieuwsblad. "At the request of the sponsors Tom is riding both races, but I think this definitely not a good thing to do."

The change comes after the Gent-Wevelgem race was moved from its old slot on the Wednesday after the Ronde van Vlaanderen, to the Sunday before. The move was made to help elevate the race’s status from semi-classic to that of the more famous Ronde.

The big reason for Boonen’s participation, for Peeters, is that of TV ratings. According to Philiep Caryn, the commercial manager at the team’s sponsor Quick Step: “The E3 Prijs has 600.000 viewers, Gent-Wevelgem has 6 million, Ronde van Vlaanderen has 60 million, and Paris-Roubaix has 600 million. Those are the facts.”

Ultimately the decision was Boonen’s, says Peeters. "But Tom knew well what was required of him: ‘Okay, I understand,’ he said last week.  Now, instead of riding the Three Days [of De Panne-Koksijde] Boonen will now have a few days training.

“The question is, what can he do this weekend? Can he go all out two days in a row? That we will have to see.”

Historically Boonen has ridden the E3 Prijs to win and rested on the Sunday. On the Tuesday he’d start the Three Days of De Panne-Koksijde, then rested up for Sunday’s Ronde after the race finished on the Thursday. Riders are creatures of habit, says Peeters, especially when they are preparing for a big challenge; this is a forced change that they don’t like, he says.

"And if the riders are not happy, is not good for the sport itself," said Peeters. "This cannot be perpetuated year after year; it is up to the UCI in order to find a solution."

If Boonen can win next month’s Ronde van Vlaanderen it will be his third victory, after 2005 and 2006, and he will join his mentor Johan Museeuw as the only riders to have won both the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix three times.


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