Tom Boonen said he wanted to be back in top form for this week’s Eneco Tour, and the Etixx-QuickStep rider who crashed out of Paris-Nice earlier this year made good on his goal Wednesday when he beat Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Elia Viviani (Team Sky) for the bunch-kick win in Ardooie
"Winning is everything, this is why I still do this," Boonen said after the stage. "The past week I've worked hard in the sprint to try and win a stage here. You can tell I'm really happy with this win after three consecutive bunch arrivals. Three times really is a charm!"
Boonen has been slowly rebuilding his form after missing nearly two months of racing when he dislocated his shoulder during stage 1 of Paris-Nice. The big Belgian, who today added his third win since returning to racing at the Presidential Tour of Turkey, finished 11th on stage 1 and third during stage 2.
"The past two days were okay, but always a little too early," he said. "Today actually didn't go perfectly either in the last kilometre. Demare and I touched wheels, but I remained upright. I stuck with it, launched in the last meters and won the stage."
Boonen, whose contract with Etixx-Quickstep ends this year, is hoping to salvage his interrupted season with a good result next month at the World Championship road race in Richmond, which features a classics-style course that could suit him well.
"I know I don't have a lot of results this year after my crash at Paris-Nice. That's why I really wanted to train again for my sprints, to see what I could salvage out of the last part of my season.
"Also, in the next races before the UCI World Championship, it's only about sprinting for myself," he said. "So, this one gave me some important confidence in that area. I still want to do well on Friday and Sunday. Let's hope we can get more good results in the next days."