Tour of Flanders: Boonen prepares for Sunday's battle
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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tour of Flanders: Boonen prepares for Sunday's battle

by VeloNation Press at 1:59 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders

Tom BoonenToday Tour of Flanders favorite Tom Boonen (Quick Step) took the time to do a reconnaissance ride of this year's route prior to the event this Sunday. He was joined by teammates Kevin De Weert, Maarten Wynants, Carlos Barredo and Sylvain Chavanel. The group took in 150 kilometers from Kruishoutem to Ninoveover during a five hour training ride where they encountered strong winds and occasional rain.

“This year the route has changed," explained Boonen. "That’s why I wanted to pedal on the course at least once before Sunday, to see if there are any hidden dangers. I have to say, it was quite useful. The changes will affect the shape of the race somewhat, especially in the kilometres immediately after the Taaienberg and the Eikenberg.

"On the old route there was still a possibility to re-enter after those two walls, the characteristics of the course allowed for it. Now there are new stretches in cobblestones with very narrow streets, after which you face the Molenberg, which has been moved from 1st to 10th challenge of the day to make the race even harder and more selective."

The route changes include the removal of the Eikenmolen, which is where Boonen's teammate Stijn Devolder made his race winning move in the previous two editions.

"It’s going to be a discriminating race where the best are going to have to stay ahead," explained Boonen. "The road terrain and the cobblestones are in good condition. We’ll have to keep an eye on the weather in the upcoming days. In case of rain some stretches will definitely become more challenging and wind could be a decisive factor, as it has been in the past.”

The Belgian champion thinks this year's Tour of Flanders will be a competitive one, with many experienced riders already performing at a high level.

“There are some riders who have already proven their fitness and their attitude towards cobblestones last weekend, like Cancellara, Flecha and Breschel," he added. "But I can’t forget Pozzato, who is always very competitive in these races and is pedalling quite strongly, or Glibert, who’s always able to come up with important moves.

"There are also quite a few strong collectives like team Rabobank and Saxo Bank that could play an important role in the outcome of the race. It’s definitely going to be interesting and open. For our part, we’re going to try to give it our all to try and win this marvellous race once again."

So far this season the Belgians have yet to secure a victory on their home soil. Now as a favorite for the Ronde, Boonen said the pressure win the race for the third time doesn't phase him: "The weight of the predictions? No, they don’t scare me. We’ve been among the favourites in these races for quite some time now. We’re used to riding under pressure and in the last few years Devolder and I have managed to win no less than 4 times.”


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