Belgian recces route with teammates Stybar and Keisse
Tom Boonen [Omega Pharma-QuickStep] approves of the changes to the Tour of Flanders course, after he had his first look at the new route.
"It will be exciting for the spectators, but also for the riders themselves is something new," said Boonen. "I think this final a lot more interesting than the previous edition."
In 2012 the race organisers Flanders Classics changed the route to include three ascents of the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg, but saw the iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen disappear.
The changes were criticised for dampening the attacks with too many flat sections. The revamped look still includes the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg as the final two, but prior to them is a much harder run-up.
The Belgian, who missed last year's race due to injury, is happy with the changes and he believes that they will suit him. “The final last year was completely locked,” said the three-time Flanders champion.
“The last loop is retained now, but there is less recovery time. In fact, the Tour of Flanders is now fully open, from the Koppenberg. This new route is in my favour. The more difficult the better.”
Boonen tested out the altered parcours earlier this week, which included the new finishing loop. The Belgian was joined by his teammates, Iljo Keisse and the newly crowned cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar.
Stybar’s big focus will be Paris-Roubaix, the weekend after Flanders, but he has been deemed an outsider for de Ronde. The Czech rider dismissed this but, like Boonen, he thinks the tougher course will stand him in good stead.
“It is much too early to call myself a favourite or outsider for the Tour, but there is little recovery as possible, and this is in my favour."
Stybar rode de Ronde for the first time last season, finishing in 36th over two minutes down on the winner Fabian Cancellara. He believes that having a multiple winner in the team has sped up the learning processes.
"Boonen has given me lots of tips. I really learned a lot. I learn in this team (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) in two years what you learn elsewhere in ten years. This study taught me that it will be hard. I would normally ride it alone, so I'm glad Boonen and Keisse have accompanied me."
Omega Pharma-QuickStep press officer Alessandro Tegner took a video of Boonen riding up the Koppenberg. To subscribe to the Cyclingnews video channel, click here