By Bjorn Haake
Tom Boonen has a chance to do something even the great Eddy Merckx never managed, win a third Ronde van Vlaanderen. If he goes on to take victory in his home race, he will become only the fifth man to triple in the Belgian Classic.
There is one certain rider who could stand in his way, Italian Filippo Pozzato of team Katusha. Pozzato beat Boonen to take the E3 Prijs semi-classic on Saturday and on Tuesday, he won the first stage of the Driedaagse De Panne, which featured many of the Ronde's punishing climbs.
Boonen – a two-time Paris-Roubaix winner, multiple Tour de France stage winner and 2005 World Champion – met with the press Thursday in De Panne, Belgium, to talk about the course, the historical significance of Flanders and 'Pippo' Pozzato.
Question: What is your training programme like until Sunday?
Tom Boonen: It's mostly getting rest, getting the massages, eating and sleeping. The big efforts are over; I will only go out for a couple of hours on Friday and Saturday.
Q: It will be sunny on Sunday, but is it true what people say, that the rain brings out the best riders?
TB: "With the rain it is easier to have an epic final in a big Classic. But with the sun the form comes along easier. Two years ago it was nice and we came to the Muur with something like 50 riders. It was still a hard race of course."
Q: Will you be 100 percent on Sunday?
TB: "It is impossible to say that now, but it is the moment to try and get a good result. My form is coming along. I trained well and I wasn't sick, so I can't complain."
Q: You did pretty well lately, but missed out on victory in E3 Prijs. Given the choice, is there something you would have done differently?
TB: "I already had some good results. [Saturday] wasn't a problem of mentality. I did some great races, riding 120 kilometres in the front group. I was on the attack a lot.
"I needed to check how things are going. Now I am certain that I have the possibility to do a great final in the Ronde. Of course the others want to do that too. We will have to see who is there in the end."
Continue to the full interview with Tom Boonen.