De Vlaeminck rates young Belgians

By Susan Westemeyer Belgian Classics legend Roger de Vlaeminck was not impressed by Tom Boonen in...

By Susan Westemeyer

Belgian Classics legend Roger de Vlaeminck was not impressed by Tom Boonen in 2007, but pointed out the performances of other Belgians. The elder criticised his compatriot in a recent interview with Belgian newspaper Le Derniere Heure.

"What has Boonen accomplished in 2007?" he questioned. "Nothing. He won the green jersey in the Tour de France, but [Robbie] McEwen dropped out early and [Alessandro] Petacchi wasn't even there.

"In the mountains, Boonen always rode just ahead of the broom wagon. He only had to follow his team-mates and sprint for 200 metres," said de Vlaeminck.

Boonen's team-mate Gert Steegmans came in for criticism, too. "He is no more than a helper. He won his Tour stage by chance."

On the other hand, the Belgian had good words for Stijn Devolder, Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet. "They rode with character."

De Vlaeminck, 60, ruled the cobbled-classic, Paris-Roubaix; he rode it 14 times in his 15-year career, winning it four times. He won Milano-Sanremo three times, the Giro di Lombardia twice, Tirreno-Adriatico six times, and the Omloop Het Volk twice, including winning it as his very first professional race. His palmarès also include two Belgian national road championship titles and 22 Giro d'Italia stages.

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