Boonen not happy with cobblestones appearing in Tour de France
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Boonen not happy with cobblestones appearing in Tour de France

by Conal Andrews at 9:01 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Feels risks are too great for GC contenders

Tom BoonenThe inclusion of cobbles in this year’s Tour de France has been criticised from very unexpected quarters, with multiple Classics winner Tom Boonen speaking out against the route chosen for stage three.

While Boonen has won three editions of Paris-Roubaix and two Tours of Flanders, thus proving his ability over the pave, he surprisingly doesn’t approve of their inclusion in the race.

“For everyone, that stage is going to be very tough. In 2004, it was already very bad,” he told Het Nieuwsblaad. “Then we raced four kilometres over the cobblesones, where you saw punctures, crashes and general misery. Now the distances have more than doubled.”

This year’s 207 kilometre third stage between Wanze and Arenberg Porte du Hainaut will see the riders cover a staggering seven sectors of pave, totalling 13.2 kilometres. It greatly increases the possibility of mechanical problems, punctures and falls, and will be far more dangerous than the usual kind of stages that figure early on in the race.

Boonen’s talents and past achievements suggest that the stage will play directly to his strengths but, to his credit, he is able to remain objective and to see the problems that this could cause.

"What is now on the table will be a nightmare for the climbers and general classification riders,” he said. “I have my doubts. This type of cycling has no place in the Tour. It is not important for a Tour winner that he can go fast on the cobblestones. This is regarded by me as trying to cause a sensation. But it’s sensation with a bad taste. "

Riders such as Alberto Contador (Astana) and Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) are thought likely to be nervous on such a stage. It is expected that the other general classification contenders will try to take time out of them there. And while this will certainly lead to some exciting racing, if any key rider suffers injury as a result of a crash, there will undoubtedly be critics of their inclusion in the race.

A delayed GC rider is one thing, but one who is hurt is quite another.


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