Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) will be taking part in the Tour Beneden Maas (GP De Rijke) on Saturday, the last race before he races in the Vuelta a España. The young Belgian star is looking forward to the next month of racing, which culminates in the sprinter-favourable World Championships in Madrid.
"Last week I was training in the Ardennes," he said. "My physical condition is improving day by day but clearly I'm still not at 100 percent - it's a bit early for that. I've recently done training sessions of 4-5 hours with long climbs that will be of use to me during the Vuelta.
"I've really not got any particular ambition for tomorrow's G.P. De Rijke, only to find the feeling of competition again. As I have often said, as far as I am concerned there is only one important race from here until the end of the season, the World Championships of Madrid. I want to be at the championships in the best possible form with great legs and a clear head.
"I'll be riding the Vuelta without any stress, without worrying about the end result. Of course, a win would do wonders for my morale and give me a great motivational kick, but I feel it will be more important to race against the most dangerous competitors for the World Championships, to be up front battling, watching their technique, learning from their movements, and generally just getting as much information as possible on how they ride.
"As far as technical preparation is concerned, my lead up to the World Championships will be very similar to the preparation I did in getting myself in top form ready for the Tour of France. Intense training, work on quantity as I did for the Tour of Switzerland and then during the final phase, quality work linked to the acceleration and spurts needed during the final sprints. I hope my hard work pays off."
Quick Step-Innergetic will field the following riders at the Vuelta a España: Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Kevin De Weert, José Antonio Garrido, Juan Miguel Mercado, José Antonio Pecharroman, Guido Trenti, Jurgen Van Goolen and Rik Verbrugghe. Team directors: Wilfried Peeters and Serge Parsani.