Boonen scared of sprinting at Tour de France
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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Boonen scared of sprinting at Tour de France

by Conal Andrews at 6:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Quick Step rider will use race to build form for Vuelta and worlds

Tom BoonenAlthough he’s picked up six Tour de France stage victories plus the green jersey thanks to his sprinting abilities, Quick Step leader Tom Boonen has admitted to fear about becoming involved in the mass gallops in this year’s race.

“I do not know if I want to run sprints again. I still have the chance…I did some good sprints in recent weeks and months,” he told Feltet.dk. “But the power struggles scare me. It seems to me that there's too many crashes,” he says.

Boonen has two reasons to be uncertain about sprints in the race. The first is the crashes which affected him last season, and which led to a long-running knee injury which ruled him out of the Tour.

The second is the strength of riders such as Mark Cavendish who, when on form, is clearly quicker than Boonen. The days when the Belgian was the fastest sprinter in the peloton are quite distant, and it’s uncertain how he would stack up at this point in time.

However he’s certain that riding the race is something that would help his career, as well as his worlds prospects. “I want to ride the Tour, because I feel I need it after my knee injury last year,” he said. “Because of it, I need an extra big stage races to get in better shape for the Vuelta, so I may be in better shape for the World Cup. I think I'd go for a stage win when I get the opportunity.”

Boonen’s injury problems last season mean that he missed the race, and also the chance to compete at the worlds in Geelong. Sprinters must draw on confidence and feelings of near-invulnerability to take the risks and make the split second decisions which make the difference between winning and losing; once doubt creeps in, it’s hard to be at the same level as before.

In recent years, Boonen had had more success in the Classics. He was blocked from starting the 2008 Tour due to a positive test for cocaine; a repeat of this led to problems the following year, and while he was ultimately allowed to start, his form was far off what it had been in recent years and he pulled out.

He had a frustrating Classics campaign this year, finishing fourth in the Tour of Flanders and then crashing in Paris-Roubaix.

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