By Gregor Brown in Zottegem
Two-time Ronde van Vlaanderen winner Tom Boonen is participating in the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde solely for race preparation. With only five days to go until Flanders' biggest race, the 27 year-old Belgian from Mol noted that "Everything is okay."
Looking down Driedaagse De Panne's roll of honour one can see the names of Michele Bartoli and Peter Van Petegem, but nowhere does the name of Tom Boonen appear. The Quick Step rider known as 'Tommeke,' who rocked to stardom thanks to wins in de Ronde, Paris-Roubaix and the World Championships in 2005, doesn't seemed bothered that he has not left his mark in the three-day race.
"I am not going to try," he stated to Cyclingnews. "This race is possible [for me]. It is possible to do good in this race and then go on to do well in Flanders, but it is not necessary." Boonen is clearly relaxed heading into Sunday's appointment in Brugge and prefers to prioritise his objectives.
However, many riders wish to make a mark in De Panne so they don't walk away from their Classics campaign empty-handed. "It does not matter and doesn't make a difference," Boonen continued – words easily coming from a rider who has such a strong palmarès. "A stage win or something is always nice," he admitted, but added, "I think I only sprinted one time in seven years at this race, so I really don't mind."
After a Classics campaign that includes Ronde van Vlaanderen (April 6) and Paris-Roubaix (April 13), Boonen will re-focus on the Tour de France.