The pressure is on for Boonen

Belgian cycling superstar Tom Boonen is looking forward to the fight over stage victories and the...

Belgian cycling superstar Tom Boonen is looking forward to the fight over stage victories and the Green jersey in France, starting in only ten days. But the leader of team Quick.Step also knows that the pressure on him will be tough, and not only coming from his fans.

"The Tour is the greatest competition of the year," Boonen said. "I'm not really happy to go there, because it is so hard mentally. As soon as you're out of bed, it's stressful. And everyone wants to win and thinks they can! Everybody gets involved in the sprints, even riders that don't have anything to do with it: GC riders, climbers... It's life-threatening."

The World Champion expected danger coming from other riders than the sprinters, amongst which he sees Australian Robbie McEwen as his biggest rival for the fast stage finishes. "Sometimes I don't agree with the way he [McEwen] sprints, but I have a lot of respect for him," Boonen continued. "Robbie does things that I wouldn't do, but on the other hand, I couldn't name two crashes that he would have caused."

Boonen also had a word for his fellow sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, who has just been taking up training again after crashing heavily in the Giro d'Italia. "It's a pity for him, a pity for the Tour," the Belgian commented on his non-participation. Still, Boonen is looking forward to the Grand Tour. "In Belgium, everyone expects me to win in the Tour," he added. "I'm fast, that's the weapon I do have. So I'll use it. One day I'll have enough of the Tour for sure, but at the moment I just can't pull back."

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