Patrick Lefevere has defend Tom Boonen's decision to abandon Milan-San Remo on Sunday, saying that Boonen's focus is on the upcoming Classics, rather than on the Italian race. The Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider opted not to continue in the race after the snow-and-cold induced break. Niki Terpstra, and Stijn Vandenbergh also did not continue in the race after the restart in Cogoleto.
The Omega Pharma-Quick Step team manger told the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad that “we need him for the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. He is important for the team, not so much in Milan-Sanremo.”
Lefevere noted that “ I think Tom made a wise decision, because after his colon and elbow problems that have disrupted his preparation, he can't miss anything else if he wants to contest Flanders and Roubaix.” Boonen was hospitalized last fall for intestinal problems, and again in late January for a bacterial infection in his elbow.
He emphasized that it was up to each rider in the team to decide whether to continue in the race after it was suspended due to the bad weather.
“The riders had one hundred percent free choice to restart or stop. Initially Cavendish wanted to stop, but when Mark heard that La Manie was taken out, he changed his mind. He would not often get such a unique opportunity.”
Lefevere added that he was pleased with Boonen results and performances so far this season. “People forget that we are all happy that he managed to start in Oman and the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. In Paris-Nice, he rode as he hoped to be able to ride.”
While Boonen will ride the E3 Harelbeke this coming Friday, it is not a major goal for him. “He has to be good in the next 14 days, not now,” Lefevere said, adding "I have every confidence in him."