Belgian Classic specialists Boonen and Gilbert vow to fight back after Flanders defeat
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Monday, April 5, 2010

Boonen and Gilbert vow to fight back after Flanders defeat

by Conal Andrews at 7:27 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Disappointed to take second and third in yesterday’s Tour of Flanders, both Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert are looking to the later Spring Classics in hope that they can each take a big win.

Boonen was attempting yesterday to take his third Flanders title, but had to make way for an utterly dominant Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank). The duo went clear in the closing stages, then the big Swiss rider simply rode away from his Belgian rival on the Muur van Geraardsbergen.

Boonen was impressed, but he nevertheless hopes to get his revenge on the cobbles of northern France. “I have won three times and I have always been better at Paris-Roubaix than in the Tour of Flanders,” he said to l'Equipe/AFP after yesterday’s race.

He knows that he has been on a very solid run of form ever since the Tour of Qatar, and what is needed now is to step it up a notch. “My season has been steady. I’ll try to put the icing on the cake, that’s what I’m missing.”

Gilbert highlighted his class last autumn with a run of four one-day wins, including the Giro di Lombardia and Paris-Tours. He hasn’t got back to the same form just yet, but if he rediscovers that condition he’ll be very difficult to beat.

“Now I will dedicate myself to the Ardennes Classics,” he vowed, planning to keep working towards the hillier races which he always said would be his big goals of the spring. “I won’t ride Paris-Roubaix; I’ll go back home [to Monaco] to train.”

He said that he was not in the right position yesterday when the break went. “When Cancellara and Boonen went on the Molenberg, I could not answer….I was not well placed. Afterwards, it was too late to return. With Leukemans and Millar, we worked well but we didn’t get them back.”

Boonen was also found lacking yesterday, and suggested that he had a momentary weakness which Cancellara was able to exploit. Once the gap opened, it was impossible to get him back. “I was not bad today. But when he [Cancellara] accelerated, I tried to follow and it felt like I had cramps in my legs. He took 100 metres and that was it. I had nothing, no indication, to predict that would happen. I was riding at 55 kilometres per hour yet he finished a minute ahead…what can I say? He was stronger. If he gets a few metres, you won’t see him again. I could only hope to beat him in a sprint.”

However Cancellara’s Saxo Bank team manager Bjarne Riis suggested that his rivals won’t have it easy next weekend. “Paris-Roubaix is the next objective,” he warned, indicating that the Swiss road race champion won’t back off now.


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