“It mustn’t be forgotten that our true objectives are later in the year,” Boonen told La Dernière Heure. “But it’s always the same thing. If I move a finger, I have half the peloton on my back watching me, while lads like Langevald or Flecha can escape without even really attacking, just by accelerating a little.”
Ultimately, however, Boonen was philosophical about the close attention he received from his peers and explained that getting used to racing on the cobbles again is more important than winning on the opening weekend of the Belgian season.
“It’s my lot and I have to accept it,” he said. “This first false step in Belgium won’t stop me from sleeping. I always have the same sensation during this Belgian overture. I’m happy to take part in it, to get a feel again for the kind of race that I like. But at the same time, I’m always happy when this weekend is behind me.”
Boonen made a surprise attack in the finale of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne rather than playing his hand in the sprint, while he was one of the main aggressors on the Taaienberg during Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but suffered from a relative lack of collaborators.
“I thought my acceleration on the Taaienberg would provoke a reaction from some riders and cause a first selection,” Boonen said. “But nobody followed up and I soon understood that there was no point in persisting.”
Boonen’s next major rendezvous will come at Tirreno-Adriatico (March 9-15), as he fine-tunes his preparation for Milan-San Remo.