No rivalry with Gilbert
In spite of his failure to win a monument classic this spring, Tom Boonen (Quick Step) has declared himself satisfied with his season to date. The Belgian captured Gent-Wevelgem and finished fourth at the Tour of Flanders, before a series of mechanical problems ruled him out of contention at Paris-Roubaix.
“Hey, you can’t say that my start to the season has been bad,” Boonen told La Dernière Heure. “I’d even say that it has been good. I still won Wevelgem and I was present at all the classics. So I can’t complain, even if luck wasn’t on my side.”
Boonen got his season off to a fine start with a stage victory at the Tour of Qatar in February, but a crash later in the race and illness at Tirreno-Adriatico threatened to compromise his spring. In such a context, Boonen was content to have been so competitive in April.
“I had my share of crashes,” he said. “I just need luck to be on my side a little bit.”
While Boonen was prominent throughout the spring, the star of the classics was Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), but he refuted the idea that he had been overshadowed by his fellow countryman.
“Everybody asks me what it means not to be the Belgian number one anymore, but Philippe and I don’t really think about that kind of thing,” Boonen said. “Phil and I know one another since we were 16 years old, and there has never been a problem between us.”
Indeed, Boonen was fulsome in his praise of Gilbert’s campaign, and lauded his capacity to shine both on the cobbles and in the Ardennes.
“What he did this spring was really phenomenal, incredible,” Boonen said. “But in a sense, I’m not really surprised anymore, because we’ve known for a long time that he was capable of great things. He is capable of shining in the hard races with climbs, which isn’t my terrain, and he is also good in the Flemish races.”
Boonen and Gilbert tested the world championships course in Copenhagen during the week, and the pair will give the Belgian team two formidable options come September.
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