Tom Boonen (Quick Step) will not participate in Paris-Nice this year. The Belgian sprinter and Classics specialist chose to race in the Italian Tirreno-Adriatico instead of the French 'race to the sun', but not for political reasons. Quite simply, the parcours of the 2008 Paris-Nice is less suited to his sprinting abilities than in recent years.
"The profile of Paris-Nice is harder this year," team manager Patrick Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad. "On paper, there is only one stage that is likely to end in a bunch sprint. That's why we made the switch." Also, Boonen could not make the difference in last year's Paris-Nice, compared to 200ere he won three stages.
For the first time since he rides for the Belgian team, Boonen will thus prepare for Milano-Sanremo in the 'race between the two seas'. Statistically, this would improve his chances to win on the Via Roma in San Remo on March 22: the last eight winners of the event all raced Tirreno-Adriatico in the lead up to the event. Andrei Tchmil, victorious in 1999, was the last rider to compete in Paris-Nice before participating in the Classicissima.