For sprinters the Scheldeprijs is an important race during the Spring classics. For pavé specialists like Lars Boom (Astana) the 208 kilometres long race in the Antwerp region is a last long training ride ahead of Paris-Roubaix. Last Sunday Boom only managed an eleventh place in Flanders and on Wednesday he explained that he banks on a much better result in Paris-Roubaix next Sunday. Boom claims he's enjoying splendid form and without bad luck in the Tour of Flanders he would've been able to keep up with Fabian Cancellara on the Oude Kwaremont.
"Today it's a matter of riding along, making kilometres," Boom told Cyclingnews while stepping off the start podium in Antwerp on Wednesday morning. The 30 year-old Dutch rider was warm clothed and a mudguard beneath his saddle would not get his clothing dirty in a windy and rainy edition of the Scheldeprijs.
Boom was pleased to find out that his form was good in the Ronde van Vlaanderen though annoyed with his eleventh place. He was confronted with no less than four flat tyres. There was a high price to be paid for choosing a lower tyre pressure, Boom acknowledged. His last flat tyre came on the Taaienberg where Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) fired their guns a first time. Boom had to do a big effort on the following Kruisberg climb. "Vlaanderen was very good. It's going well. I hope that I'll be able to show that on Sunday. I've never been in such great form at this time of the season," Boom told Cyclingnews on Wednesday.
After his last flat tyre he managed to get back to the front group on the Kruisberg - showing of great form – but by that time Sagan was already up the road with Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky). On the penultimate climb nobody was able to keep up with Cancellara, who tried to bridge up to Sagan and Vanmarcke. Boom ended up riding in a third group with Kwiatkowski and Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quickstep) when reaching the foot of the final climb, the steep Paterberg. Eventually he featured in the group that sprinted for fourth place. Fast man Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won that sprint while Boom was one of the last riders in the group, finishing eleventh.
Boom made a fierce statement on Wednesday morning. "My result from Sunday doesn't reflect of what I'm capable of. I'm better than that result. If I don't have the flat tyre on the Taaienberg then I'm up there in the front of the race. Then I'd be able to keep up with Cancellara in the finale."
Boom won the epic Tour de France stage from Ypres to Arenberg that was raced on wet cobbles back in 2014. There's a good chance that rain might spice up Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. The former cyclo-cross World champion wouldn't regret a rainy edition of Paris-Roubaix but he doesn't want to focus too much on it. "I'm not checking the weather reports. It'll be a tough race anyway, whether it's dry or wet. For me, obviously, it's a factor but I'm not in control of it so I'm not looking into it. Regarding equipment obviously I've got everything ready. We're talking about tyre widths and maybe I'll get my cross bike ready but I still have to look into that. Every year they're showing photos but then they turn out to be two years old or something. Tomorrow we'll see how the course looks like and then we'll know more. What matters most right now is arriving with great sensations at the start on Sunday."