It's starting to become something of a tradition, Quick.Step-Innergetic meeting the press in a grubby backroom of the old-fashioned Bar Tabac L'Allumette in Bouvines after their reconnaissance of the Paris-Roubaix cobbles. Brecht Decaluwé was there once more for Cyclingnews.
It could be me, but I had the impression things were different this year, although I couldn't figure out what had changed. First of all, there was much more sun, making it feel somewhat like a Tour de France rest day. Probably because of the good weather, there were more local people at the Bar Tabac. And why not pay a visit to cycling's prominent figurehead Tom 'Tornado' Boonen? The Quick.Step riders arrived from their reconnaissance ride, freshened up, and team leader Boonen strolled into L'Allumette.
Last year, Boonen was surprised to see so many people, saying the place was getting too small - journalists responded by saying that he was getting too big. This year, Boonen entered, sat down and looked somewhat bored with yet another press conference on his plate. A journalist asked why riders did the reconnaissance ride and Boonen answered rather tersely: "Only because you guys want us here."
Luckily, for the assembled press at least, Boonen soon livened up, making it an interesting brainstorm session. "Of course it's always interesting to see the new sectors," noted the Belgian. "Sector 13 is very bad, it won't be deciding for the race, it's just bad; they decided to throw some cobbles on the ground there," he added, in his typical ironic style. Manager Wilfried Peeters then explained that there's now less time for riders to recuperate, as in the past this section was ridden on the main road.
The weather report for Sunday forecasts 26 degrees in the afternoon and today was a nice preparation for those unseasonably warm conditions. "It was very hot, I drank nine bidons of water; the heat will cause breathing problems and crashes," Boonen predicted.
Click here to read the full recap of Friday's press conference with Tom Boonen.