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Belgian cyclist Tom Boonen and cycling legend Eddy Merckx talk during the team presentation of Quick-Step, at the Velofolies, in Kortrijk.
Boonen to go for Tour stages rather than the green jersey
The Quick Step team held its official presentation at the Velofollies bike expo in Belgium on Friday, meeting the public in the afternoon and then attending a dinner with 1000 fans, sponsors and supporters in the evening.
Team manager Patrick Lefevere had tried to sign Alberto Contador during the winter but when the Tour de France winner opted to stay with Astana, Quick Step refocused on success in the classics.
Tom Boonen, Stijn Devolder and Sylvain Chavanel will again lead the 27-rider team. In 2010 Boonen is targeting his fourth victory at Paris-Roubaix and a third win at Ronde van Vlaanderen. Only Roger De Vlaeminck has ever won Paris-Roubaix four times. Somewhat surprisingly, Boonen revealed he would not try and win the green jersey at the Tour de France.
Devolder is looking for a third consecutive win at Ronde van Vlaanderen but wants to extend his classics campaign and target Liege-Bastogne-Liege. After his poor overall performance at the Tour de France in recent years, Devolder may miss this year’s race and focus instead on the Vuelta. Chavanel told Cyclingnews that he will target Paris-Nice and then the classics.
New signing at Quick Step include Belgian track star IIjo Keisse, German sprinter Andreas Stauff and Nikolas Maes. Patrick Lefevere also expected from young stage race rider Kevin Seeldraeyers to step up after winning the best young rider’s jersey at the 2009 Giro d’Italia and finishing 14th in his first Tour de France.
"I'll sign with my eyes closed for the same Spring results as last year. But I would like to again be a player at the Tour," Lefevere said.
"Tom Boonen has already won sprints in the Tour, but he has some fast rivals. The trick is to adapt to the surrounding, like a chameleon. There are not five Tom Boonens in the peloton, he can do it."
"I think that we will change tactics with Stijn. The "carte blanche" idea for the Tour doesn't work. Stijn will be strong in the Spring. We’ll et him race freely then. Then he can build up slowly for the national champs and during the Tour, he can do a training camp at altitude and then peak in autumn."
Despite the presence of Devolder and Chavanel in the team, Boonen is consider the team leader at Quick Step and has to shoulder the expectations of the cycling mad Flemish fans and media.
“It’s a bit different to it used to be, as we had Bettini beforehand, who shared a lot of responsibility with me. There was also Pozzato,” he said.
“I won't go after the green jersey at the Tour but rather the prologue and the stage finishes in Brussels and Spa. I want to see what I can do on the stage to Spa. I want to make it hard for Fabian Cancellara in the time trials."