Tom Boonen has voiced his praise for the new Omega Pharma-Quick Step team with which he will race next year. The merger between part of the former Omega Pharma-Lotto squad and Patrick Lefevere's team has brought together a strong outfit combining a multitude of fast men, strong rouleurs, Classics specialists and even Grand Tour contenders.
Boonen is part of a contingent that also feature Francesco Chicci, Gert Steegmans and Gerald Ciolek as pure sprinters, Bert Grabsch and Adam Hansen as time trial specialists, Sylvain Chavanel and himself for the one-day races, and Tony Martin and Levi Leipheimer as overall contenders for stage races. Boonen was especially pleased with the balance of the roster and its capacity to pursue a variety of objectives.
"The team has changed in a good way," Boonen told Sporza. "We had our first meeting last week and that was very pleasant. Now that we know Cavendish won't join us, we will use the riders that we have differently and I will be much more supported in the finale of races."
The three-time Paris-Roubaix winner is confident that he can make an impact on the Spring Classics once again in 2012. While he won Gent-Wevelgem in March, his last victory in a Monument dates back to 2009 when he last won the 'Hell of the North'. This year, the 31-year-old finished fourth at the Tour of Flanders but abandoned Paris-Roubaix after suffering mechanical problems and a crash. Responding to criticism, he argued that he did not feel overshadowed by the other riders of his team.
"I've won a lot in the past so it's not correct to say that 2012 will be my last chance. I've been satisfied with my riding and I want to come back to my former level," said Boonen, who has been the victim of several crashes this season, which ultimately put an end to his Tour de France, Vuelta a España and Worlds chances.