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Kelly impressed by Boonen

By Shane Stokes

Former one-day Classics king and current Eurosport commentator Sean Kelly said this week that he was very impressed by Tom Boonen’s performance in the Tour of Flanders last Sunday. "It was really something out of the top drawer," said the Irishman, who won most of the big Classics during his pro career. "He was race favourite and put up a performance fitting of that.

"Boonen seems to be a rider who must attack, he is very aggressive," Kelly continued. "He had teammates there who could have worked for him but he was the one who responded when attacks went. He is not afraid to make an effort, and is really impressing as world champion. He has also been very well received in Belgium - he is the new kid on the block and has a lot of support."

As Boonen is still just 25 years of age and therefore should have his peak athletic performances ahead of him, there is much speculation as to how far he can go in the sport. When asked if Boonen could work on his climbing and longer time trials to become an even more complete rider, as Kelly himself did during his career, he said that it was possible: "If he concentrated on it he could certainly develop a bit more, he has that potential."

However, Kelly added that "it is different to the way things were before. It is very specialised nowadays, with sprinters and climbers working very hard on their disciplines. So it’s perhaps more difficult to win many different types of races than it was in the past."

Boonen is aiming to defend his Paris-Roubaix title this Sunday. Should he do so, he will match the two Hell of the North wins by Kelly, who came out best in 1984 and again in 1986.

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