By Anthony Tan in Compiegne
The Friday before Paris-Roubaix, defending champion Tom Boonen went for an eighty kilometre final reconnaissance with his Quick.Step team-mates, riding over the decisive final sections of the race he hopes to win for the second time in as many years.
Training kicked off at 10:15 this morning, commencing roughly at secteur pavé 17, otherwise known as the infamous Trouée d'Arenberg that greets the field after 163,5 kilometres in the race, and finished eleven secteurs later at Cysoing à Bourghelles (km 232), 27 clicks from the finish to be held inside the Roubaix velodrome.
After a quick towel down and a change of clothes inside the comfort of the Quick.Step bus, an hour-long press conference [see separate story] was held inside the cosy Bar Tabac L'Allumette in Dehau-Bouvines, where the world champ fielded a barrage of questions, ranging from his bike, his biggest rivals (at first naming his team-mate Kevin Hulsmans in jest), La Forêt d'Arenberg (describing it worse than the Koppenberg in last weekend's Ronde van Vlaanderen, which saw everyone except 10-15 riders walk uphill), and whether his leaner physique has affected his ability on the flat - to which he confidently replied: "No, not at all - I just go faster!"
Quick.Step-Innergetic has named the seven riders who will support defending champion Tom Boonen in this Sunday's Paris-Roubaix: Wilfried Cretskens, Steven De Jongh, Kevin Hulsmans, Servais Knaven, Nick Nuyens, Filippo Pozzato and Kevin Van Impe will be trying to help Boonen reach the Roubaix velodrome in first position, with sports director Wilfried Peeters in the driver's seat.