Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) has confirmed that he will participate in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. Boonen was forced to delay the start to his season due to an infected elbow but after successfully completing the Tour of Oman, he moved to allay fears that he would miss the opening race of the Belgian season.
“I’ll certainly start Omloop on Saturday,” Boonen told Sporza on his return to Belgium. “For Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne the day after, nothing has been decided yet. I’ll see how smoothly this week goes, but if things go as normal, then I will ride it.”
Boonen has never won Het Nieuwsblad [previously Het Volk] although he came close to landing victory in Gent last year, when he was edged out by Sep Vanmarcke in a sprint finish.
He ruled out the prospect of competing for the win this year, although it will be interesting to see if, as per recent tradition, Boonen continues to herald the beginning of the spring by forcing the pace on one of his favourite climbs, the Taaienberg.
“Just riding is a victory in itself,” Boonen insisted. “The key now is to find my race rhythm because that’s what I’ve been missing. There is a difference between riding in Oman and on the Flemish hellingen.”
Given his truncated winter, during which he also suffered an intestinal infection, Boonen acknowledged that he was some way behind his rivals in his preparation for the spring classics. Nonetheless, he declared himself pleased with his progress during the Tour of Oman, his first race of the season.
“I came though Oman well,” he said. “Everything is developing well even if, obviously, I’d like my condition to be better. But that’s normal and everything is looking brighter again.”