Quick Step on Tour track too in Zolder

Titanic team time trial tussle looming

A few days after Silence-Lotto, Quick Step has also completed a team time trial training session on the racing circuit in Zolder, Belgium. Gearing up for the Tour de France, the team sent its possible Tour roster to prepare for the event's team time trial stage four.

The squad includes Tom Boonen, recently in the line of fire because of recreational cocaine use. Boonen’s participation in the Tour is still unresolved but his team are counting on him starting. "For the team time trial, his presence will make a world of a difference," teammate Stijn Devolder told Het Belang van Limburg. "Tom is the strongest of us in the discipline. With him, a good classification placing will be more easily achieved than without him."

Boonen himself was grateful for the praise. "Maybe I am [one of the best riders in the team time trial], but sprinters are just good at it," he said. "They recover quicker and have the essential speed."

By attracting a lot of media attention, Belgium's star sprinter also relieves his teammates - something which is highly valued at the world's greatest cycling event. "He takes away so much pressure," continued Devolder. "In his shadow, we ride better. That also goes for Sylvain Chavanel."

Boonen rode to the training session on his bike from his home in Mol, accompanied by Kevin De Weert and Steven de Jongh, and planned to return on his bike, too. "That makes a total of 135 kilometres training," said Boonen. "I hope that coffee and cake will be ready."

One man not planned to race the Tour this year is Kevin Hulsmans, even though he had good results in the Giro d'Italia. "That is precisely why," said Quick Step sports director Wilfried Peeters. "We don't want to squeeze the juice out of Kevin like a lemon. He already has the most racing days this season in our team, and to put the Tour on top of this now would really be too much."

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