Boonen ready for the challenge

"I know the Poggio like the back of my hand," world champion Tom Boonen told the Belgian press, invited to a chat in the mundane city of Monaco yesterday. Teammates Hulsmans, Cretskens, Nuyens, Tosatto and Trenti joined him for a 'stroll' on the Via Roma from Alassio to Sanremo on Monday. The Capo Mele and the Capo Cervo were scouted by car.

Boonen, who impressed during the reconnaissance is certain he knows the parcours very well and is ready for the first big goal of the year. "I didn't have to ride today anymore; I have ridden up the Cipressa and the Poggio a dozen times already since the Ruta del Sol," he told HNB.

"Last year, I was forced to just follow on the Poggio - now I know that climb like the back of my hand. I know every turn, and how best to take it. I feel I will be able to take off on that climb myself now. Descending in the company of Trenti and Tossato was very informative, but in the race things sometimes take a different run."

The Belgian superstar is determined to win the "Primavera", as much as he is eyeing the Grenn jersey in the Tour de France this year. "Milano-SanRemo is like the Green in the Tour: it's not a must but it's a challenge. One day I have to have it on my palmarès," he added.

According to Boonen's roommate Kevin Hulsmans, the last test was successful. "Tom is in the same starting position as Petacchi was last year," Hulsmans told Het Laatste Nieuws. "He simply can't lose Milan-SanRemo."

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