No one was more surprised that Lars Boom won the Paris-Nice prologue Sunday than the Rabobank rider himself. “I felt great today, but I must admit this surprised me,” he said, after collecting the first yellow jersey of the French stage-race.
The 24-year old started about an hour and a half before final rider Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) took off, and his ride was followed by a long and tense wait for him on the Rabobank team bus. “I never counted on it. Yes, I had a good feeling and rode well, and I gave everything,” Boom said on his team's website.
“But there were so many top guns still to come. The top-five were very good, but to my amazement first place was still a possibility. Jens Voigt came closest, and I was still expecting [Alberto] Contador, [Levi] Leipheimer and Luis Leon [Sanchez]. But all this waiting, I was grinding my teeth.”
Boom covered the eight kilometre course in 10:56 minutes, one of only two riders to break the 11-minute mark. “I immediately went full out,” he said. “The rhythm was very good.”
It was the young Dutchman's first win of the year, and his second major win with the Rabobank ProTour team. Last September he won the 15th stage of the Vuelta a España, which “is still very special to me.”
Despite victory in his national Cyclo-cross Championship in January, Boom's 2010 road season got off to a slow start. However, he said things had begun to turn around at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last weekend.
“I felt good at Omloop, not really good, but better than before,” Boom said. “That feeling continued [today]. Although, of course, an eight kilometre time trial is something different from a 160 kilometre or more race.”
Boom will do his best to hold on to the leader's yellow jersey, but knows that his main rivals over the next few days will be the sprinters. The peloton's fast finishers are likely to take time bonuses over the next two stages, however Boom still holds a significant advantage over most of the Paris-Nice field.
Boom will also start the first road stage of the race on Monday in defence of his current lead in the points, mountain and best young rider classifications.