Van Petegem on Boonen/Gilbert duel ahead of Classics weekend
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Van Petegem on Boonen/Gilbert duel ahead of Classics weekend

by Samuel Morrison at 5:27 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics
Analyse ahead of Het Nieuwsblad & Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne

The Belgian Classics season starts this weekend with two one-day races, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. All eyes are on the country's two top stars, Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert.

Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) won Omloop twice, 2006 and 2008, and last year had a superb season, including wins in the Giro di Lombardia and Amstel Gold. Boonen (Quick Step) has won Kuurne twice, 2007 and 2009, but his season last year was far from his best due to knee problems. His top results included a second place at Milano-Sanremo and at the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

"For Tom Boonen, every year is the season of truth. Nothing is as fleeting as the victory of yesterday," said Walter Godefroot. "Boonen made a fantastic season last year, but losing is losing."

Godefroot is an ex-professional and former sports director for T-Mobile and Astana. He sat down with ex-pro Peter Van Petegem and ex-pro/sports director José De Cauwer. All three Belgians gave an exclusive interview to newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.

Boonen "won last year, but no Classic," added Van Petegem. "But have you looked at his spring results from last year? Quite impressive."

"How many Belgians won a race this year? Boonen, Gilbert and [Ben] Hermans," said De Cauwer. "Last year, he [Boonen] was only beaten by Fabian Cancellara."

Gilbert is Belgium's top ranked cyclist. This year, he's won a stage of Portugal's Tour of Algarve. Boonen won a stage at the Tour of Qatar.

"There's also a difference in their approach," continued Van Petegem. "Everyone finds it normal when Boonen wins in Qatar. When Gilbert wins, it's a battle."

"When Phil wins," De Cauwer added, "it's hand-to-hand combat."

Het Nieuwsblad covers 204 kilometres on Saturday, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne 193 kilometres. Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky) and Bobbie Traksel (Landbouwkrediet), respectively, won the two races last year.


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