Tom Boonen and Sylvain Chavanel targeting the spring classics
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Tom Boonen and Sylvain Chavanel targeting the spring classics

by Ben Atkins at 6:09 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics
Same objectives as usual for Quick Step’s biggest stars

tom boonenAs one of Belgium’s two biggest teams Quick Step naturally aims its biggest guns at the spring classics; in 2010 though, those guns missed. Tom Boonen’s third places at Milano-Sanremo, the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and the Ronde van Vlaanderen were slim pickings for a team used to much greater success. The then Belgian champions knee problems knocking out his entire summer just added injury to insult.

"I was at my best last year, but the others were a little better," said Boonen at the team’s presentation in Kortrijk, according to Sporza. "My sporting value took a knock. If this scenario repeats itself this year, I accept that, but the feeling and hunger are already very big, this is no different to before."

With his injury problems behind him though, the 30-year-old is ready for a fresh tilt at his favourite races. "This year I have a very good eye in,” he said. “Our two training camps in Calpe were excellent, the atmosphere was really good.

“It was perhaps time for a new wind,” he said of the number of changes made to the team line up. “Thanks to [new team owner Zdenek] Bakala, we can now work on the long term, you feel that there is less stress."

Unsurprisingly, Boonen’s targets for 2011 are the same as every year, and are the ones that he has been able to hit with such accuracy in the past.

"[Milano] Sanremo, the Ronde van Vlaanderen and [Paris] Roubaix," he said. "The World Championships in Copenhagen also speaks to me. [Gert] Steegmans has already ridden it; it's a nice circuit with a difficult finish; it’s on my mind."

If Boonen is to score any major classics victories this spring, he will likely have one of the team’s two Frenchman to thank. Sylvain Chavanel is arguably the team’s best one-day all-rounder; able to perform over a number of different terrains.

"The team has undergone some changes,” he said, referring to the twelve new faces in the blue and white team, according to Het Laatste Nieuws, “but not got any worse.

sylvain chavanel"We’ve strengthened ourselves with men like Niki Terpstra and Gerald Ciolek. That Stijn Devolder has gone? We'll see if I thas that much affect on our team. I don’t want to sepnd too much time on it. I think we are stronger in depth in comparison with last season."

Chavanel does not win all that often but when he does he tends to win big. Last year his two Tour stages, earning him a day in the maillot jaune on each occasion were the team’s stand out performance of the 2010 season; he hopes for similar luck this year.

“My year will be successful with two to three victories and a steady performance,” he said. “I will again do most of the Flemish classics; whether I’ll ride Paris-Roubaix, is not yet known, we will look at it at the time. You can’t be good from the Ronde van Vlaanderen until after the Walloon classics. In current cycling this is impossible.

“It is of course difficult to reach your peak when you need to,” he added. “You can never just take a victory to order. Certainly not in the Tour de France where I was allowed to shine [last year] and could give everything; that is certainly something I’d like to do again."

Although there are a number of other stars in the team, the success of Quick Step in 2011 will largely be measured against the success of Boonen and Chavanel; should those two manage to handle that pressure the Belgian team might well be able to put its average 2010 behind it.


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