With the World Championships just under two months away, Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) is hoping that he can hit the ground running at the Eneco Tour in just under two weeks. Boonen, who has recently finished the Tour de Wallonie, confirmed yesterday that he would skip the Vuelta a España in favour of the Belgian/Dutch race.
"The Eneco Tour is the first race where I really want to be top,” Boonen told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. “The aim is to race there and build the form, and that intention remains for all further events, up to the World Championship in Richmond. Week by week I hope to be better than its peak at the World Championships on September 27th."
Boonen has had a challenging season after dislocating his shoulder at Paris-Nice in March. The injury put him out of action for almost two months before making his return to racing at the Tour of Turkey. Since then, he’s only been able to notch up two victories - one at the Belgium Tour and another and the Rund um Köln. He is also penned in to do the Vattenfall Cyclassics on August 23.
Boonen is targeting a spot in Belgium’s team for the World Championships in Richmond, which features a course that could potentially suit him. “I have only seen the course on video and I have heard from some of my colleagues. Carlo (Bomans – Belgian coach) has told me that the course is not half as difficult at the European Games in Baku (where Boonen competed for Belgium and finished 6th in the road race –ed). I think that there are a lot of guys that will be able to enjoy themselves,” said Boonen.
The top 10 teams, as of August 15, will be allowed the full complement of nine riders. Belgium are currently ninth in the overall standings, with Greg van Avermaet (BMC) earning more than half of their 410-point total, and should be assured of a full squad. Van Avermaet was Belgium’s best finisher at the last edition in Ponferrada, finishing fifth in the bunch sprint behind the Pole Michal Kwiatkowski. With Boonen and Philippe Gilbert, Belgium have two former world champions in their potential team.
“It will be a very full team again, a dream team,” said Boonen. “It has always been the case in recent years. First let’s see how everyone is performing in the coming weeks. If we are all really in top form then the control of the race will automatically come to us. But it cannot hurt to have multiple leaders.”
The World Championships take place between 19-27 September in Richmond, Virginia.