By Susan Westemeyer
Tom Boonen of Team Quick Step showed his form is coming good ahead of the Vuelta a España on Sunday by winning the sprint of the fourth stage of the Eneco Tour in Ardooie, Belgium. The former world champion handily out-sprinted Kenny Van Hummel of Skil-Shimano and Edvald Boasson Hagen of Columbia to take his second bunch sprint win of the event.
"I am very motivated for the Vuelta," Boonen said. He missed out on the Tour de France after testing positive for cocaine in an out-of-competition control. "This is unlike the previous years when I had to scrape together all of my ambition just to go. With the condition that I have now shown, I am certainly able to win at least one stage."
"I feel a bit like in 2005 when I was world champion. That was when I took a break after my knee injury from a crash at the Tour, and then went on to do the Vuelta."
It was Boonen's second stage win of the tour after he won the first stage. It will also be his last stage win, as he will not take to the start on Monday. He will leave the race to concentrate on his preparations for the Vuelta a España, which starts on August 30.
"After this, I can go home with a good feeling," Boonen continued. "My brother is celebrating his birthday so I will eat a piece of cake, have two days to rest and then pack my suitcase for the Vuelta."
Boonen's main competition in the sprints, Daniele Bennati, was in the leader's jersey at the start of the stage. However, during the 213 kilometre journey from Terneuzen to Ardooie, Columbia's André Greipel, who had gone into the stage only one second behind Bennati, got in a long escape during the stage and gathered nine bonus seconds at the intermediate sprints to take over the 'virtual lead'. The Liquigas rider did not contest the final sprint, and finished 22 seconds down.
Continue to the full report, results and photos.