Tom Boonen will ride the Amgen Tour of California this year, after his Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere confirmed his participation in the American stage race. Boonen will race for stage wins, aiming to repeat his stage win from 2008, when he beat Heinrich Haussler and Mario Cipollini to the line during a stage between Santa Rosa and Sacramento.
Boonen is scheduled to race a full Classics campaign this Spring, continuing with Gent-Wevelgem this weekend, but will compete in the US-based raced for the third time in a row in May (16-23).
“I’m glad we’re doing to the Tour of California. Tom likes to do that race,” Lefevere told Cyclingnews.
Quick Step and US bike manufacturer Specialized cut ties at the end of last season, but Lefevere still believes that the team’s remaining and new sponsors are still attracted to racing in America, even if it means spreading the team thinly across a number of races.
“For the sponsors the Tour of California is an interesting prospect. We’ll have a team in Belgium, Giro and California and it’s a lot of work so we have to figure out who is doing what, but Tom Boonen is someone who is motivated to do races that he likes.
“With just two ProTour teams in the Tour of Belgium, everyone is expecting him to win if he goes there, but now he can go to California, win a stage like he did a few years ago and everyone will be happy. He’s very motivated to do the race but we have a few details to iron out first.”
After the Tour of California Boonen will return to Europe before focussing on the the Tour de France. Last year he pulled out of the race having had a torrid time in the sprints, however Lefevere is keen on his leader to appear at the Tour again. “Of course, a rider like Tom Boonen has to do the Tour.”