Lars Boom will target Paris-Roubaix and the Tour de France during his first season with Astana next year, according to an interview with Biciclismo. The 28-year-old from the Netherlands also told the Spanish website during the team's recent training camp in Calpe, Spain, that he has been reinvigorated by the move to the Kazakh squad after 11 years with the Rabobank and Belkin organization.
“For me it was time to sign a new contract after 11 years on the same team,” he told the Spanish website. “I was ready for something new and different to Team Belkin. My mind needed this, new people, new coaches, new directors, new people around me, new challenges.”
Despite his new-found motivation, Boom did admit that the controversy surrounding Astana, including new doping allegations and concern about the team's ability to renew its WorldTour license, were not an “ideal situation.”
“The positives of the Iglinsky brothers is something stupid, like the other guys,” he said. “I have always been and will be a clean rider, and it is not a problem for me to be on Astana. I'm happy to be able begin a normal year that I hope is very good.”
Boom will start his season in Australia at the Tour Down Under in Janruary, then he'll head to the Middle East for the Dubai and Qatar tours before returning to Europe for the Classics. Boom will race Strade Bianche, Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo, Dwars door Vlaanderen, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, with an emphasis on the final month.
“I hope to perform well from Dwars door Vlaanderen up to Roubaix, giving a high level during those four weeks and trying to win a classic,” he said. “I will go out to win all of them, with the goal of winning at least one, but I think especially Roubaix. If I win Roubaix, the season will be perfect.”
Boom, whose best finish at Roubaix so far was sixth in 2012, further proved his mettle on the cobbles during last year's Tour de France stage from Ypres through the Arenberg Forest to Porte du Hainaut. The powerful 2008 cyclo-cross World Champion won the cobbled stage with an impressive performance in the finale. Now he wants to repeat the feat in April.
“It was a great victory and a great moment in my career, perhaps my biggest success so far,” he said. “Now, of course, I'd like to win in Roubaix, which has been my goal for years. Undoubtedly, it is the Classic that attracts me most of all.”
Boom will return to the French Grand Tour this year in hopes of adding at least one more stage win to his palmares when the race crosses the Netherlands and Belgium in the first week. The 14km opening time trial in Utrecht will be a likely target.
“For me it will be very important days in Holland and Belgium,” he said. “To win with Vincenzo (Nibali) is the main goal, and personally I want to do well in the prologue and the team time trial. It will be great to try and win that day in my country. So I have labored in Calpe. I've made some changes on the bike, and I will train on the Specialized time trial bike. I will focus on it after the Classics.”
Boom will also focus on one week stage races with Astana. In the past, he has won the Eneco Tour, the Tour of Britain, the Tour of Belgium and the Ster ZLM Tour.