Tom Boonen (Quick Step) believes he has the right form to claim his second Paris-Roubaix victory this weekend. While the Belgian will have to wait another 12 months to add to his two Tour of Flanders victories, Boonen believes that he "is good enough to make a number in Hell."
"I have shown [in Flanders] that I am once again at the top of the list of the favourites," warned Boonen. "I am good enough to do a number in Hell. I don't have to rely on my sprint on Sunday; I can do it with power."
Boonen was one of the top favourites on Sunday to take the biggest title on offer for a Belgian, the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Having won the Belgian race back-to-back in 2005 and 2006, the man from Mol has been under enormous pressure to emulate his own success.
"On Saturday it sounded like Quick Step was only made up of Tom Boonen, but now the media are talking about Tom Boonen and the others from Quick Step," he told Sport Wereld. "We showed that we have a good team with a lot of talent for the Tour of Flanders and Paris - Roubaix. Riders with class who are ready to give 120 percent."
After finishing in the group that sprinted for fourth behind his team-mate and winner Stijn Devolder, Boonen has let it be known that he once again feels on top of his game and will be ready to take on the Hell of the North this Sunday.
"These races are of a complete different standard to what we have seen so far this season," he said. "We haven't won much, but we were not panicking. We had three or four riders amongst the top riders in the race [on Sunday]. Not that we stuck out head and shoulders above the others, but from the Oude Kwaremont we had the race under control. I realised early that [Fabian] Cancellara and [Alessandro] Ballan were not feeling great.
"I asked 'Volderke' [Stijn Devolder] before the Eikenmolen to put some extra effort into the chase, as there were very few fresh men among the favourites," added Boonen. "I didn't want to have the same scenario as last year. At one point I think I jumped about 50 times onto everything that moved. No one was in a position to make Devolder's life hard. In this sort of team it is give and take. I was gunning for him from my heart. Stijn was also a favourite, but not the biggest favourite that started this morning."
It was the 2002 edition of Paris Roubaix which first brought Boonen into the limelight. He finished third behind Johan Museeuw and Steffen Wesemann in one of the hardest editions in recent times.
Boonen also spoke highly of his team-mate Devolder, complimenting his compatriot on his victory at home last weekend.
"I have known him since the juniors," said Boonen. "A phenomenal rider, even if you had to sometimes yell at him. If you didn't say anything to him, then he would ride on the front all day. You would have to constantly hold him back. Even so, I didn't expect that he would be so strong. He rode them all cross eyed."