Tom Boonen (Quick Step) is determined to make a serious impact in the Vuelta a España’s sprint stages. The Belgian lines up in Benidorm on Saturday not only with the intention of preparing for the world championships, but also with the aim of winning a stage in Spain.
Boonen was forced out of the Tour de France with concussion after a heavy fall on stage 5. Although still feeling his way back into competitive action following his return at the Tour of Poland, Boonen is hopeful that the Vuelta’s seemingly uncomplicated sprint finishes can play to his advantage.
“The Vuelta is a very important race for me to prepare the Autumn and for next season,” Boonen told Het Nieuwsblad. “I studied the course carefully on Thursday evening and I’ve picked out a couple of stages where I can do something, even in the mass sprints against riders like Cavendish, Haussler and Farrar.
“The Vuelta is not the same as the Tour. The sprints are not as chaotic. I really like the Vuelta and I already won here twice in 2008.”
Boonen also admitted that he is still feeling some after-effects from his Tour de France crash, but is confident that his performance on the bike will not be unduly affected.
“It’s not too bad when I’m on the bike, but I’m still feeling it a bit in the neck and shoulders,” Boonen said. “The doctor told me that the stiffness I feel in the mornings could go on for half a year.”