Former cyclo-cross World Champion Lars Boom will return to 'cross competition on Sunday at the Grand Prix Groenendaal in St Michielsgestel, in his native Netherlands. The event will test the 24-year-old's form prior to a start at the Dutch Cyclo-cross championships in Heerlen, one week later.
A three-time winner of the Dutch 'cross championship (2007, 2008 and 2009), Boom followed his most recent triumph with a successful transition to the road that included a stage win at the Vuelta a España. In announcing his participation in the two cyclo-cross events last month, Boom said he will use the races as part of his preparation for his 2010 Spring Classics campaign.
His absence from the cyclo-cross scene this year has given other riders hope of breaking Boom's stranglehold on the Dutch national title, though, as his compatriot and Rabobank teammate Gerben de Knegt told Sporza, his rivals will be wary of challenge posed by the 2008 World cyclo-cross Champion.
"It's a case of waiting to see what sort of form Boom is in. Perhaps he will be good, but maybe not," said De Knegt. "For him, cyclo-cross will be a stepping stone to the Spring Classics. But of course Boom has already proven that he is an excellent crosser. He hasn't won the World Championships for nothing."
De Knegt will himself head into the Grand Prix Groenendaal and the Dutch Championships after a string of high finishes. The most recent of which was fourth place in GvA Trofee round in Baal on Friday. The results have given him confidence to declare himself favourite for the Dutch, but played down the importance of the race in the scheme of his 2009/2010 season.
"It's not forbidden [for Boom to come back for a few races]. If I were him, I would do it," he said. "I am the favourite for the national title, but if Boom has a better day, so it shall be. My season doesn't depend on the Dutch title."
De Knegt finished fourth in the 2009 Dutch Cyclo-cross Championships.