Team manager fully supportive
Omega Pharma-QuickStep team manager Patrick Lefevere says that Tom Boonen’s late withdrawal from Milan-San Remo this weekend is a big blow to the team, but he stands by his rider.
The Belgian was set to lead the team, along with Mark Cavendish this Sunday. However, on Wednesday, the team announced that he wouldn’t take part in the race due to personal reasons. Lefevere says that Boonen’s knowledge and experience would be missed as much as anything.
“This Milan-San Remo we miss not only the charisma of the man Tom Boonen, but also his leadership. Tom is our steering wheel. He is the man who can make decisions during the race and take responsibility for the whole team,” Lefevere said to Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. “Not to participate in Milan-San Remo was a joint decision and also backed up by the sponsors."
“In normal circumstances, for such an event, there is a day’s family leave, but with an athlete the rule does not apply. To achieve top performance the legs and body follow the head. To force him is useless."
With the alteration of the route leaning things towards the sprinters and his early season form as it was, Boonen was one of the favourites for the victory. As recently as last weekend, he was talking up his prospects for Sunday.
The Belgian decided to put his ambitions aside to stay by his partner, after she suffered a miscarriage of their first child. The team were aware fairly early on that this was a possibility. "The problems with Lore’s pregnancy began Tuesday. First was the contact through sports director Wilfried Peeters, who gave me the updates. Given the seriousness of the event I left Boonen alone for 24 hours. Wednesday afternoon I had a telephone conversation,” explained Lefevere.
Boonen has taken a few days off the bike, but it is expected that he will return to training this weekend. “He promised me again to turn to the classics from Saturday. I do not know exactly how he spent the last few days, but I am quite sure that a top rider like him knows at that age what to do.”
It is also likely the Boonen will ride Dwars door Vlaanderen next Wednesday. The team believe that adding another race to his programme will make up for missing San Remo, rather than clocking up more training miles.
Last year, Boonen missed out on much of the classics when he broke his collarbone after hitting a traffic island at the Tour of Flanders. Boonen is hoping to rectify that and add yet another Flanders/Roubaix double to his records. He has already got his classics season of to a good start with victory at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne
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