Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) lines up in the Grand Prix de Wallonie on Wednesday, his final competitive outing ahead of the world championships road race in Valkenburg on September 23.
While conventional wisdom suggests that the Vuelta a España provides the ideal build-up to the world championships, Boonen opted to compete at shorter stage races like the Eneco Tour and the Tour of Denmark, and he demonstrated his burgeoning form with victories at the World Ports Classic and Paris-Brussels in recent weeks.
Philippe Gilbert (BMC) will be Boonen’s co-leader in the Belgian team at the Worlds, and after a difficult season, he rediscovered the winning touch with two stage victories at the Vuelta.
“We’ll see what the best option was at the world championships,” Boonen told Het Nieuwsblad. “I admit that that I considered other options but it was good to do other races rather than sticking to the same thing.”
Gilbert won the GP de Wallonie twelve months ago but he will not be on hand this year as he recovers from his exertions at the Vuelta. The race concludes with an uphill finish at the citadel at Namur, but Boonen believes he has the form to conquer the climb.
“I know the citadel, and it’s not exactly the Mur de Huy, so I want to win,” said Boonen.
The hilly race should prove an exacting work-out ahead of the Valkenburg Worlds road race, in which the climb of the Cauberg comes just 1.5km before the finish line. Another member of Belgium's Worlds team, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) will also aim to be competitive on the road to Namur.
"If he's recovered from his return trip from the races in Canada, Greg can do something here if it's a difficult race," BMC directeur sportif Rik Verbrugghe told La Dernière Heure.